(Photo of El Ellis: Tallahassee C.C. Athletics)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Louisville men's basketball newcomer El Ellis was a star at the JUCO level. Playing two years for Tallahassee Community College, he was named the Panhandle Conference Player of the Year and an NJCAA All-American in both seasons.
During this time, he put on full display his abilities as a scorer, shooter, and facilitator that made him such a hot commodity in among high major basketball programs. In his sophomore year, he averaged 17.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists, while also shooting 46.0% from the field and 41.7% on three-points attempts.
But as you can imagine, there is a major difference between playing at the Junior College level, and playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference-one of the top basketball leagues in the nation. The season is still five months away, but Ellis has already noticed a sizable difference just in practice alone.
"Really just what was so different was the physicality, the pace, and just playing around a bunch of really good guys," Ellis said when asked how the early summers practices have been like compared to JUCO. "That's been so much different."
As good as Ellis was down in Tallahassee, naturally, he will have to make some adjustments to his game prior to the start of the 2021-22 season. Louisville head coach Chris Mack has previously stated that he wants Ellis to be more aggressive and make faster decisions, something that he is already working on since moving to campus earlier this month.
"Everyday you can see I'm getting a lot better," Ellis said. "Like today, I was really aggressive in practice, and it showed. I just got to keep that in mindset every day, just being aggressive, and everything else will fall into place."
The Durham, N.C. native has been on campus for merely a few weeks, but says the transition to Louisville is starting on a high note. He notes that practice has been competitive, and that all the newcomers have "bonded together really well".
"I feel like I've adjusted really well," he said. "Just everyday, I'm just trying to get better. The coaching staff and the rest of my teammates are really helping me adjust."
In fact, it's this mindset that Ellis says will be the key to him making the adjustment to life in the ACC. While he still wants to hit the weight room and bulk up to 185 (he currently sits at 180), his adjustment starts with the right approach.
"I know that's going to help the team, just playing hard and just trying to help us win. That's gonna be the main thing," he said. "Everything else will come together if I just do that."
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