The pieces are slowly falling into place for Kenny Payne’s first Cardinal team. After Sydney Curry made the decision to stay with the Louisville program, the question became who else among the players eligible to return would join him. A day later, the next domino fell into place as guard El Ellis chose to remain with UofL.
Card Nation My Loyalty Run’s Deep❤️ pic.twitter.com/08PsWSqh4u— 𝓔𝓵 𝓑𝓸𝓸𝓰𝓲𝓮 (@elellis3) March 31, 2022
Ellis was a highly touted 6’3 180 lbs JUCO guard when he arrived at UofL from Tallahassee Community College. In his last season at TCC before joining UofL, he averaged 17.7 ppg, 4.3 apg, and 3.4 rpg while shooting 41.7-percent from 3-point range and 46-percent overall. He was a first team JUCO All-American in his final season at TCC.
For his first season at Louisville, Ellis averaged 8.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg, and 1.6 apg. However, his stats don’t tell the ceiling Ellis possesses. He had two 20-point outbursts against some of the Cardinals best competition of the season. Against Michigan State, Ellis came off the bench to help provide a much-needed scoring punch. He scored 22 points while grabbing a rebound and getting a steal. Against Final Four participant Duke, Ellis scored 18 points, grabbed 1 rebound, and dished out 2 assists. Against another Final Four participant in North Carolina, he scored a career-high 25 points to go along with 2 rebounds and 2 assists. He has multiple double-digit scoring games throughout the middle part of the ACC schedule.
El Ellis was the only guard that could beat defenders off the bounce for UofL. He’s ultra quick and can get into the lane at will. He’s also a good shooter from deep and, though it wasn’t highlighted last season, he’s a very good passer. The scoring prowess Ellis showcased was Russ Smith-esque. Ellis has the capability to be one of the country’s best guards. It’s easy to see why Coach Kenny Payne would want El Ellis to remain on the roster. Ellis, with the proper coaching Coach Payne will provide, could be a premiere PG in the game. I suspect he will start and I suspect his assist numbers will go up next season as he will likely be the initiator of the offense. I also expect for Ellis to be a double-digit scorer because he can make shots from just about anywhere and his electric quickness will allow him to get to the rim a lot.
Louisville now has a big man and a point man. Now the Cards need to address the wings. However, keeping an electric guard in the fold is a huge win for Coach Kenny Payne.