Elbert Ellis burst on the JUCO scene after his first year, this season, at Tallahassee Community College. He will most likely enter next season as one of the top JUCO guards who will come out in the 2021 class. This season, Ellis averaged 14.3 points, while shooting 48% from the field, 40.3% from three and 84.5% from the line. The electric guard also chipped in 4 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. 

Ellis started his high school career off at Prominence Academy, in Durham, NC and then finished with Quality Education for his senior after Prominence Head Coach Randy Pulley got a college job. His senior year at Quality Education, Ellis averaged 16.7 points and 4.7 assists per game. Which capped off a high school career that saw him score 2,383 career points. 

Through the years, Ellis is someone Phenom Hoops has been very familiar with. Dating back to 2016, Jeff Bendel watched Ellis with the Durham Hurricanes as a 15u player, he said, “It wasn’t hard to be impressed with Elbert Ellis and everything he was responsible for. He’s a really quick guard with good length and great vision. Ellis is able to take his defender off the dribble and to the hole in a hurry; he showed solid range on his 3-point shot. Between his quickness and long frame, Ellis is a quality defender with active hands, piling on the steals. Huge upside on this young man.”

During his senior season, after watching Ellis in high school, Rick Lewis stated, “Eliis is an effective floor general who demonstrates team leadership and has a tremendously positive effect on his teammates, not to mention he has the ability to score off the dribble/bounce. Ellis has demonstrated time and time again he can play at the highest level.

Ellis’ dad played football at the University of Pittsburgh and later professionally for the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers.

We caught up with Ellis on Saturday…

PHR: You started off playing with the Durham Hurricanes, then played a year with Team Felton and finished off your travel ball career with Team Wall. What would you say each of those programs did to help advance your career and develop you?

Ellis: Each of them (Hurricanes, Wall, and Felton) looked after me like I was family to them. Each program allowed me to play my game and they put me in a position to be seen. I wouldn’t change anything. 

PHR: Heading down the JUCO route, what were your expectations going in?
Ellis: I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it would be a grind every day, and I knew I would have to earn everything I wanted to get because everyone is going in with the same goal. I wanted to make it out.

PHR: Coming out of the JUCO process what would you say about it (both positives and negative)?

Ellis: It’s really a lot of positives, mostly positives, I would say. If you come in and really dedicate your time and effort into getting better then your life can change with 1-2 years. Just like mine has!!

PHR: Arizona State, Iowa State, UConn, Louisville, etc…have all offered in the past week. Is this the course you saw your recruitment going when you entered the JUCO ranks?

Ellis: Honestly, I didn’t expect it to be like this, but my coaching staff believed in me and said it would be like this. It’s really a blessing and I am so thankful!

PHR: Obviously, the staff stepped forward today with an NC State offer. Being from the 919, how important is that specific offer for you as it checks a lot of boxes, local, ACC, etc…??

Ellis: Yeah, it means a lot to have an opportunity to play at home. I’m very excited about it honestly!

PHR: At this point in time, with all the offers coming in, what schools are sticking out to you?? What is each of them saying to you that is catching your ear? 

Ellis: Really I’m just taking my time with the process and building relationships. A lot of the schools feel like I can come in and really make an impact, help them win right away. They are also really talking to me about helping grow me into a pro.

PHR: With the Coronavirus pandemic and social distancing going on, what is your game plan to sift through this process, with visits and decisions?

Ellis: Really just staying out of the way and continuing to work on my game. If I’m not in the gym, then I’m watching film, trying to see what I can do to get better. I probably won’t know anything about visits for a while. I am just focused on the school year. 

PHR: Speaking of the school year, what will you be working on to improve this season within your game?

Ellis: I am going to just continue to work on everything, working on scoring at all levels of the floor and especially working on by body in the weight room. That will be big for me this summer. 

PHR: Coming out of the Bull City, it’s a lot of talent. What is one thing you can say about most players, or athletes, who are coming out of Durham?

Ellis: Everybody who comes out of Durham is going to have that dog mentality and will be hungry. We know what it means coming from Durham, we don’t get the same opportunities as everyone else. 

PHR: What advice would you give to a kid who is coming out of the Bull City with aspirations of following your footsteps, hooping at the highest level?

Ellis: If you have faith and you believe and you continue to work on your game, anything is possible. Nobody can stop you from achieving your goals, except for you!

PHR: What advice would you, now, give yourself two years ago?

Ellis: Don’t worry about the schools that aren’t recruiting you, continue to focus on yourself and you will be fine.