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Bemidji State men's basketball: Ellisor making transition to snow, Division II

Those of us who were raised in northern Minnesota have learned how to deal with winter. Some, including snowmobilers, skiers and ice anglers, have even decided to embrace the season.

Bemidji State University forward James Ellisor is not from here but the Glendale, Ariz. transplant is doing what he can to make the best of what winter throws his way.

"I've never seen snow before," Ellisor said. "This is my first time. And it is really cold. So far I'm not a fan of winter but I'm getting used to it and used to wearing very warm clothes."

While winter weather continues to be an adjustment for Ellisor the Beaver forward has already made a successful transition to the NCAA Division II style of basketball. In four games he has averaged 20.5 points and is perfect from the line, hitting 21 of 21. Ellisor also has converted 29 of his 51 field goal attempts, is the team leader in rebounds with 31, including 22 defensive boards, has dished five assists and has collected four steals.

Ellisor has helped BSU post a 3-1 non-conference record and this weekend the Beavers will begin NSIC play when they host Moorhead 8 p.m. Friday and Crookston 6 p.m. Saturday.

"It's been an exciting season so far," Ellisor said. "It looks like we have a great team and we've improved every day."

Ellisor's path to Bemidji State began when Beaver coach Matt Bowen made a recruiting visit to Arizona to watch 6-10 center Ryan Kinnel.

"I went to Arizona to recruit Ryan and on that trip I looked at six kids," Bowen said. "When I was there the coach said that the best kid in the state was James so we brought him to Bemidji for a visit."

Ellisor enjoyed his visit and saw much about Bemidji and BSU that he liked.

"I liked the campus, the coaches and the nice small area," Ellisor said. "Bemidji is a long way from home but I thought that being away from home would be a good idea for me. So I decided to come here."

"We try to recruit families, kids with good upbringings and good students," Bowen said. "The reality is if you do that it saves a tremendous amount of trouble at the back end.

"We've been fortunate to have good guys on our team and James and Ryan are two of our good guys."

Not every recruit that Bowen visits is the right fit for BSU or for northern Minnesota. But recruits who take advantage of what Bemidji has to offer are excited to be here.

"There are a million things you can find wrong about Bemidji," Bowen said. "This is a great place and a great community but it's not for everybody. If you are coming here for all of the external stuff, you may be disappointed.

"In James' situation you are going from the West Coast to the Upper Midwest," the coach continued. "That type of move means changes in culture, time zone and climate. But if you are not from here you don't realize how strong a Division II conference the NSIC is and that is a sell we try to make with our recruits."

Now that the non-conference schedule is over Ellisor is eager to see how the Beavers will do in the NSIC.

"The conference is really tough but every single guy brings something different to our team," Ellisor said. "I'm excited about the potential of our team.

"This weekend (represents) a new start because we are beginning the conference season. Individually I'm looking forward to improving every day and I want to be there mentally and physically."

While Ellisor is ready to face his NSIC opponents, overcoming winter may take a little more time.

"I heard stories about snow and cold coming in late December so I'm not ready for this weather this early," Ellisor said. "But as long as I'm here I'd like to try some ice fishing and I definitely want to go skiing."

Ice fishing, skiing and a 20.5-point average. It appears that the adjustment to winter is on schedule.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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