Mercer

Ellis leaving Mercer basketball program

Michael Ellis has a year of basketball eligibility left, but he’s ready to move on with life off the court.

The Mercer guard won’t return to the team for 2009-10 but won’t be leaving campus. The 22 year old from Statesville, N.C. will work in the Mercer athletics department as a graduate assistant, working with Senior Associate Athletics Director for Academic Affairs Sybil Blalock as well as helping out the men’s basketball team.

“I’m fine with it,” Ellis said. “This past year was good.”

Ellis and head coach Bob Hoffman talked throughout the season about what Ellis might do. Ellis hasn’t been 100 percent healthy since he arrived in 2006 as a transfer from UNC-Asheville, where he was Big South freshman of the year.

“I had injuries,” Ellis said. “It seems like every year, something was going on. It was just something I thought would be best for me and the program.”

Ellis played in all 32 games and started 11 last season, averaging 21.6 minutes, seven points and 3.2 rebounds. He shot 47.1 percent from the floor and 85.7 percent from the free-throw line.

“I told him whatever he wanted is what we’d do,” Hoffman said. “He went back and forth. But he was hurting a lot of the year.”

Ellis graduated in December and began work last semester on his MBA.

“It wasn’t an easy year,” Hoffman said. “But we’re excited he’s still going to be around.”

Hoffman also said reserve post player Sidiki Straub won’t return by mutual agreement and will transfer. Straub played in 25 of Mercer’s 32 games and averaged 5.6 minutes.

“I think he’ll have a chance at another level to play more and contribute more minutes,” Hoffman said. “He was a great guy to have on the team.”

Those moves, along with the senior Calvin Henry’s eligibility expiring, allowed Hoffman to sign five players: Brandon Moore and Jeff Smith from Wallace State (Ala.) Community College, Michael Walters of Walter (Tenn.) Community College, Ridas Pulkauninkas of Lon Morris (Texas) Junior College and Tevin Swann of Bethel High School in Virginia. Stratford’s David O’Shaughnessey is an invited walk-on who will be a freshman.

Swan graduated from high school in December and enrolled at Mercer for the spring semester. He and Smith are guards, and the other three are forwards.

The Bears are at a full roster with 13 scholarship players and three walk-ons. Larney Abdush-Shakur, Darius Hogans and Marquisse Jackson aren’t on scholarship.

“I think we’re going to be deeper and more athletic and more physical,” Hoffman said. “I think there’ll be a lot more competition in practice for playing time, which usually leads to good results.”

MGC BACK HOME

Middle Georgia College went 1-2 in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s baseball World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.

The Warriors lost their opening game 17-13 to Santa Fe on Saturday but then stuffed Seminole State 16-6 a day later.

MGC’s road trip came to an end Monday when the Warriors lost 11-6 to Western Nevada, which scored five runs in the seventh and eighth innings to win.

Jonathan Hester had three hits and RaShawn Payne, Shawn Ward and Josh Purvis two each for MGC, which had only less hit than Western Nevada.

Santa Fe and Western Nevada remained alive and were part of Thursday’s action. The championship is Saturday night.

LOOKING AHEAD

If you want a preview the level of golf that will played in the fall at the Brickyard Collegiate at the Brickyard, just take a look at the NCAA golf tournament this week.

Four teams competing in the tournament at Inverness Golf Club in Toledo, Ohio, are in the Brickyard’s 15-team field. Charlotte’s Corey Nagy, a junior, will also be in the field. He is an All-American who helped Charlotte to its fourth straight Atlantic 10 title.

Georgia and Georgia Tech are in the NCAA championship and highly ranked in all three polls: Golfstat, Golf World/Nike and Golf Week. UGA is first in two and second in the other, while Tech is seventh and eighth. Clemson is at home but ranks fifth and seventh.

Golf World/Nike only ranks the top 25 while the other two polls rank all teams.

Chattanooga and Michigan are in Toledo, as well. Chattanooga’s average ranking is 30th — it received votes in Golf World/Nike — while Michigan’s is 41 in two polls.

Just as impressive is that every team in the Brickyard is currently in the top 90 with nine in the top 50.

Mercer is coming off its best season and is 88th in one poll and 85th in the other. The Bears, who finished third in the A-Sun tournament, return four of their top six golfers.

The Brickyard, hosted by Mercer, takes place Oct. 9-12.

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