Ellington is back in the hoop to stay

Two-sports star will hang up his spikes for the hardwood

jkendall@thestate.com; ashain@thestate.comMarch 12, 2012 

USC guard Bruce Ellington.

TRACY GLANTZ — tglantz@thestate.com

Bruce Ellington’s football flirtation is finished after 780 all-purpose yards.

Ellington announced Monday afternoon that he will not join South Carolina’s football team when it begins spring practice this afternoon and devote his time to the basketball team.

“Basketball’s always been my first love,” Ellington said in a statement released by the school. “After giving it a lot of thought, this is the decision I’ve made. If you want to be great at something, you have to commit to it full-time.”

After playing exclusively basketball as a freshman and leading the Gamecocks in scoring, Ellington joined the football team last season and had 17 catches for 211 yards, 17 carries for 106 yards and had 463 yards on kickoff returns. He scored two touchdowns.

“I appreciate coach (Steve) Spurrier for giving me an opportunity to play football at South Carolina,” the former two-sport Berkeley High star said. “It was a great experience, but right now I want to focus on basketball.”

He missed months of practice and seven of the basketball team’s 31 games because of his participation in football and ended the season as the second-leading scorer with 11 points per game. He started 15 games at point guard and led the team in assists (74).

Ellington, who was named SEC freshman of the week in football and basketball last year, has two more years of basketball eligibility remaining.

Ellington made quite a splash last year when he announced his decision to play football. Although an NCAA rule prohibited him from participating in spring practice, he joined the team in the fall and focused almost exclusively on football during the summer.

He still kept ties with the basketball team, though, attending community-service events and working out with players after he was done on the football field.

His departure from the football team will open up a scholarship for Spurrier’s squad. The basketball team will have two open scholarships when Ellington rejoins.

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