South Carolina's football team must replace its leading receiver next season following Bruce Ellington's announcement last Friday that he would forgo his final year to focus on the NFL draft.
His basketball days are over as well.
Ellington played both sports for the Gamecocks, averaging 9.9 points per game for the basketball team last season and recording a team-high 29 steals. He missed nine games a season ago due to football obligations and had played in only three this season, averaging 5.7 points.
"It hurts us defensively, because no matter how Bruce was from an offensive standpoint, he always gave us unbelievable effort on the defensive side of the ball," South Carolina assistant coach Matt Figger said Monday as the SEC conducted its first basketball teleconference of the year. "He was always able, with his speed and his strength, to step right into that rotation.
"We're going to miss him from a leadership standpoint, there is no question. He brought great character and a lot of enthusiasm. He's an unbelievable human being, and I'm certainly going to be a big fan of his in the NFL."
The 5-foot-9, 196-pounder from Moncks Corner, S.C., led South Carolina's 11-2 football team this past season with 49 receptions for 775 yards and eight touchdowns. He saved his best for last, making six catches for a career-high 140 yards in last Wednesday's 34-24 win over Wisconsin at the Capital One Bowl.
Last summer, guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope became Georgia's highest draft pick since Dominique Wilkins went third overall in 1982. Caldwell-Pope averaged 18.5 points per game last season, ranking second in the SEC behind Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson.
"Kentavious' offense is what everyone has talked about as far as how we were going to replace that and how that would be an issue," Bulldogs coach Mark Fox said, "but we're a better offensive team this year than we were last year. We're a team that has more people scoring, and we're more efficient. Now, you don't quite replace the No. 8 pick in the draft, but we felt like, that by committee, we would be a better offensive team.
"Where we have not replaced Kentavious is on the glass. He was our leading rebounder two years in a row, and we have not replaced him on the defensive end. That's where we miss Kentavious, and we knew there would be an adjustment period when it came to all the things he did for us."
Strength in numbers
The Arkansas Razorbacks lead the league in scoring with 87.2 points per game and in field-goal percentage at .494. They do not, however, have an individual ranked among the SEC's top 15 in scoring.
Sophomore guard Michael Qualls leads the 11-2 Razorbacks with 13.7 points per game, followed by freshman forward Bobby Portis (12.8), junior forward Alandise Harris (10.5) and junior guard Rashad Madden (10.2).
"I love to have teams like that," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "I love to have teams where you have multiple offensive weapons and you average a ton of points and you have great balance, because it makes it so much more difficult for other teams to defend. If one guy has an off night, you still have three or four or five guys who are very capable of picking you up on that given night.
"That's a great situation to have, in my opinion."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...