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December 4, 2013

Players: Ellington's return exciting

News flash: Bruce Ellington is pretty not-normal.

That's how senior guard Brenton Williams described the athletic prowess of fellow senior guard Bruce Ellington, and it's about as apt a description as you'll find for an athlete so remarkably able to transition between major sports so seamlessly, so fearlessly and so (seemingly) effortlessly.

"What he does is pretty not-normal for most athletes, to go play two sports the way he does, with very little time in-between before he jumps right to the next one," Williams said about Ellington. "He just has unlimited energy. It just showed (Tuesday), what I saw for the first day. He showed that he didn't even play a football season, that he's been working, like he had fresh legs. And he just played a game against Clemson just days ago. It was pretty great to see him out there and everybody on the team was pretty excited to see him."

For fellow point guard Ty Johnson, who practiced with Ellington all last season but couldn't compete until his transfer year was complete, Ellington is a marvel of athleticism.

"I think the first thing that he brought when he came in today was energy, right from the get-go," Johnson said. "Very first play, he had energy like he hasn't missed a beat when he got on the court. And of course Bruce is going to bring toughness, he's going to bring experience, along with Ty and myself. Bruce has been playing here. He's definitely going to be beneficial, there's no question about it."

Both players said there other components in addition to energy that Ellington brings such as experience - a commodity all-too rare on a roster loaded with seven true freshmen - and leadership.

"Bruce has been around this program longer than I have," Johnson said. "He knows what coach Martin wants by playing for a year for coach Martin. But he also brings that toughness, passion, and like I said, experience.

"Bruce brought energy, he didn't complain about anything, he came out on the white team and just basically just practiced hard. Having him out there brings another voice on the court, another leader, another guy who's passionate about the game and that's just what we need.

"Young guys saw him come out and play, and they brought their game up even more. Just having another voice on the court, and having another guy who's been here, for about three years now, was just very good for us. It helps a lot."

Williams scoffed at the idea that Ellington would need some time to adjust to the game or even the new faces around him

"I don't think it's going to be tough for Bruce at all," Williams said. "Bruce is going to do what Frank Martin wants him to do, whether it's score or just to be a vocal leader or whatever role he gets assigned to do.

"That's not going to be a problem for him. Bruce is a smart player. He's not a selfish guy at all. He's definitely not going to be the kind of player who thinks that he has to do something, and I think he's going to do it very well. He's going to fit into the right positions."

For the Gamecocks, who travel to Oklahoma State Friday night to play the No. 9 Cowboys, fitting Ellington into the right positions could be precisely the ingredient necessary to spring a season-defining upset.



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