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Indiana Commits National Player of the Year

Peegs Profile: Jamarcus Ellis


Today we continue with our profiles on each of the six Indiana basketball signees.  Up next is Jamarcus Ellis who was named this week as the Junior College Player of the Year. Find out why the former Chicago area player is so highly acclaimed and a legitimate starter candidate next fall.

Three years ago Jamarcus Ellis was battling with Shaun Livingston for most people's vote as best high school player in Illinois.  Today Livingston is an NBA veteran making millions and Jamarcus has yet to lace them up in front of a big crowd.  But Ellis has persevered and his patience is about to be rewarded this fall in Bloomington.  In fact one of the things I immediately noticed about Ellis when I saw him last November was his determination.   He was very intense, no nonsense on the court.  In both games his team struggled early and he was visibly upset and determined to do something about it.  Given that everyone has described him as very quiet, it was great to see him get vocal with some teammates and show some on court leadership.  You sense also a very apparent inner strength in him probably related to his tough times growing up and that should bode well for dealing with the Big Ten pressure situations he'll have ahead of him.

Jamarcus really looks like a "glue" guy that should be able to fit around any Indiana lineup that Coach Sampson wants to throw out there in his two years in Bloomington. That is because Ellis does just about everything well. He rebounds, he defends, he runs the offense when needed. There is not a whole lot to complain about in terms of what he'll bring to the table at Indiana.

If you want to complain then the areas would be perimeter shooting outside of 15 feet and maybe the occasional bad decision with the basketball. The latter should correct itself, the former is anybody's guess. In the two games in Tennessee, Jamarcus did not knock down any shots outside of about 12-15 feet. On the other hand he was a terrific 15-16 from the free throw line over that stretch. My guess is because his lefty shot is kind of a simple, short motion shot, it may loses its effectiveness as more lift and recoil is needed. Kind of the opposite of somebody like Roderick Wilmont who shoots it better with more lift and full motion versus a free throw where he has to limit that.

The stat line for Ellis shows his versatility.  Playing on a team that went 33-3 and was ranked #1 most of the year in the top division of junior college, Ellis led his team in scoring (17.1 ppg), rebounding (8.6 rpg), assists (6.0 apg), steals (1.34 spg) and free throw shooting (79.7%).  He may have showed more range than I give him credit for by knocking down 20 of 60 three pointers (33.3%).  Despite getting a lot of defensive attention he was able to hit 48.6% of all his shots from the floor.

Ellis led in all those categories despite playing on a very loaded team.  Of course his 6-foot-8 teammate DeAndre Thomas is headed to Indiana as well. The you have sweet shooting forward Victor Dubovitsky who signed with Texas A&M.  Big forward Johnnie Harris committed this week to play for Steve Alford out in New Mexico.

Also when talking about Chipola personnel it is important to note that in his first year at Chipola, Ellis did not play a lot of point or handle the ball much because that team featured point guard Stefhon Hannah. The Chicago native who played a part in getting Ellis and Thomas to Chipola, went on to Missouri this year and led the Tigers in both points and assists.

So with Hannah off to Missouri and no other highly acclaimed point prospect on the roster, Ellis really took on mostly a point guard responsibility this winter.  Given the kind of season Chipola had, it certainly appears that he did the job well.  When I saw him Jamarcus showed he could go behind his back quite easily and is comfortable with the ball.  Has a very effective crossover move as well.  What he really does well is hold the ball high and make quick little flip passes inside to cutters or posting big men.  He also has a very nice tow-hand outlet pass that you can see in the video highlights linked below. There's no doubt that ability would have been of great help to last year's Hoosier team.

Could Ellis play point guard for Indiana this year?  I suspect at times he will and he certainly has the court vision.  But it did appear his dribble was a bit high and like as mentioned, decision making was sometimes questionable.  Maybe you see Ellis in a point forward type role given that he plays so tall and you want him a little closer to the basket where he can make quick slashes and help you on the boards.

Indiana is listing Ellis at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds.  Others have listed him at 6-foot-4.  All I can add there is he looked at least a legit 6-foot-4.  He definitely plays 6-foot-5 or taller because of his long wingspan.

Ellis seemed to be a good but not great athlete. Or in other words not a big leaper like a Wilmont or Ratliff. But because he has a very long reach he throws it down without too much trouble. What he does well is slash to the basket and then use that reach to his advantage, often using the glass to finish his drives even outside of layup range.  Some of us in the crowd when watching him commented how he was very old school in his use of the glass in that 5-8 foot range from the hoop.  He also has little flips at the basket once he gets close that are a little unorthodox but effective nonetheless.  Probably helped there by his long reach.

Bottom Line

Ellis appears ready to come in and compete for a starting wing spot.  At minimum he should earn a role among the main rotation.  He might not replace the outside shooting of Roderick Wilmont but he should give you Rod's ability to rebound against taller players and do much more on drives and passes.  He will give Coach Sampson real flexibilty in that you can probably throw any collection of four guys around him and he can find an effective role to take on.  Best of all he is coming to Indiana with some determination and maybe a little chip on his shoulder.

Make your own opinion of Jamarcus Ellis by checking out our video highlights of his play.

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