LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Louisville's roster for next season is officially starting to take shape.
El Ellis, a JUCO transfer who finished as one of the Cardinals' top scoring options this past season, announced on social media Thursday that he will be returning to the program for the 2022-23 season.
Ellis posted a graphic to Twitter and Instagram of him with the message "3 is Back", accompanied by the caption "Card Nation My Loyalty Run's Deep."
He's the second Cardinal in as many days to announce his return for next season. Fellow former JUCO transfer Sydney Curry also revealed his intention to come back for another year, marking two massive wins for recently-hired head coach Kenny Payne.
A former two-time JUCO All-American at Tallahassee Community College, Ellis was arguably Louisville's most exciting player to watch during the 2021-22 season. Although he struggled with consistency issues, the 6-foot-3, 175-pound guard regularly put on display his athleticism, shooting ability, and incredible ability to finish at the rim with an acrobatic flair.
The Durham, N.C. native averaged 8.7 points per game, finishing as Louisville's third-leading scorer behind Noah Locke and Malik Williams. He scored double-digit points in 13 games, including a season-high 25 point vs. North Carolina. He also averaged 1.6 assists per game, and was Louisville's top three-point shooter by shooting percentage at 36.0 percent.
It goes without saying that Ellis' return is huge news for the program. With Jarrod West and Mason Faulkner graduating, the Cardinals were in huge need of a boost to their backcourt for next season, as Ellis and Locke were the lone remaining guards on the roster.
Ellis told Louisville Report after Payne's introductory press conference that he "loves Louisville", and Locke - despite going through senior day activities - has the option to take advantage of an extra year of eligibility. But with the coaching change from Chris Mack to Payne, it left the door open for both players to potentially leave the program.
With the decisions from both Ellis and Curry to return, it gives Payne - at the minimum - a solid duo for his first year as a head coach, and a bit of clarity as to pertains to roster construction over the next few weeks. Now, eyes shift to potential decisions from Locke, Jae'Lyn Withers and Dre Davis, the latter two attended his introductory presser.
Ellis came to Louisville as the No. 1 JUCO prospect in the Class of 2021. In his sophomore year at Tallahassee C.C., he averaged 17.7 points, 4.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game while shooting 41.7 percent on three-point attempts. He was not only named an NJCAA All-American as both a freshman and sophomore, but was the Panhandle Conference Player of the Year in both seasons.
(Photo of El Ellis: © Scott Utterback/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK)
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