When Sussex, WI product Brady Ellingson got to campus in 2014 he was primarily known for his shooting abilities. He played seven games in his first year on campus before redshirting. In his redshirt freshman season, Ellingson was looked at as a guy that could hit the long ball for the Hawkeyes. Iowa was in need of a shooter coming off the bench last season and some thought Ellingson could be that guy.
After Brady dropped 20 points in Iowa's second game of the season against Coppin State, fans were elated. It looked like Iowa could have a productive piece off the bench in Ellingson.
However, as the Big Ten season wore on, Ellingson's minutes started to disappear. He had a productive game when the Purdue Boilermakers came to town, scoring 8 points off the bench. But after that, Ellingson wasn't heard from much.
Many speculated in the off-season that Brady may consider transferring. Everybody usually has an opinion on a candidate to transfer and a lot of people had pegged Brady as that candidate. But he stuck it out. And it's paying dividends this season for him and the Hawkeyes.
"It's just getting in a rhythm, the game is slowing down for me, and I'm just trying to help my team win in anyway that I can," Ellingson said after his 10 point performance against North Dakota on Tuesday.
He looks much more comfortable out on the court this year as opposed to last. He's been better on defense and is knocking the shots that he does take down. He's shooting 61% from the field so far this season for the Hawkeyes.
"I've just been working on my athleticism, and my positioning. I'm trying to get my work done early, going up against quicker guys I've just got to be smart and move my feet," Ellingson admitted when talking about the improvements he's made on the defensive side of the ball.
His head coach, Fran McCaffery is also taking note of his growth.
"Brady was spectacular. He plays the game at his pace, he moves it, he moves without it, he shoots when he's open, he throws the ball to open people when he's covered, and he's playing really good defense. I mean, his defense has gone to another level this year, I'm really proud of him," McCaffery said after Iowa's win over North Dakota.
Whether or not Ellingson would factor in this season was a question that was tossed around a lot by fans and media. We saw glimpses last season that Brady could be a productive player, but with his minutes fading down the stretch, it was a reasonable question.
That question has been put to bed in the past few weeks. He's played double digit minutes in every single game since the Memphis game and has put together quietly productive games during that stretch.
After Jordan Bohannon, Peter Jok, and Isaiah Moss it's between Christian Williams and Ellingson for minutes as the fourth guard. Both have been seeing the floor, but Ellingson has been playing better than Williams has the past few weeks or so.
If Brady continues to play with consistency, he'll definitely continue to factor in as one of the guards off the bench for the Hawkeyes.