Alabama wing Keon Ellis took one of the most winding roads to the NBA Draft among all prospects available in 2022.
The Florida native had an illustrious Florida career before ever ending up at Alabama. Ellis led Leesburg High to back-to-back 6A state titles, including a 29-1 record as a senior.
He had initially signed with Gardner-Webb for his division-1 choice, though he admitted it felt like he was settling. By that point, Gardner-Webb was the only school still talking to him due to academic shortcomings.
Ellis instead went the junior college route to Florida Southwestern State, about three hours south of Leesburg, down the peninsula.
In his final season at FSW State, Ellis averaged 18.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.1 steals, and 1.2 blocks on 54/40/81 shooting splits in 27.6 minutes.
Ellis would transfer to Alabama for his final two collegiate seasons, continuing a legacy of hounds on the Crimson Tide perimeter defense, following the likes of Herb Jones. In his lone season as a full-time starter, Ellis averaged 12.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.9 steals on 44/37/88 shooting.
At the NBA Draft Combine, Ellis underwhelmed as far as measurements go; 6-foot-4.5, 167.4 pounds, and a 6-8.5 wingspan after being listed 6-6, 175 on the Alabama team website. I must clarify, however, that I’m not really one to place red flags on someone based on size – if they can play, they can play.
And Keon Ellis can play.
Making the pitch
I’ve already been sold on Ellis coming to Phoenix, likely as an undrafted free agent, so here’s the pitch on that front:
Source: Alabama wing Keon Ellis will work out with the Phoenix Suns Monday #ValleyProud
— Mavs / Magic Draft (@MavsDraft) May 29, 2022
And it could be the jaded Suns fan in me from seeing the way the lackadaisical approach to defending Dallas’s Luka Doncic in the second round of the playoffs, but I’m hungry for more aggression on the defensive perimeter.
That’s exactly the approach Ellis brings, especially in these examples, where he utilizes his length, which despite his height is still solid at +4 inches. It’s one thing as a defender to have length, and it’s another to know how to use it.
Ellis does particularly well when trying to wall off the offensive player’s strong route like he often does against Kentucky’s Kellan Grady in a few of those clips.
In addition to defense, one area he could make an early impact with a team like Phoenix is his varied shot profile from deep, including off of movement, around screens, as well as solid catch-and-shoot form.
As far as a value proposition for a team selecting 45th or later, Ellis’s 3-and-D profile makes him appealing as both an immediate impact guy with some upside to boot.
The Suns should do everything they can to tamper and make sure Ellis doesn’t end up anywhere else, a la Lu Dort telling second-round teams to not draft him in 2019.
Categories: College Basketball