Ellington, the 6-foot-4 stud athlete/combo guard out of Episcopal Academy, struggled through the first half of Philadelphia's 84-77 win over the New Jersey juniors. At the break, he had just 3 points, not exactly what you'd expect from Scout.com's No. 16 player in America.
And then it happened. Philadelphia turned a 45-37 deficit into a 57-50 lead as Ellington went unconscious from the field.
He caught fire from the perimeter and just started draining 3's from every spot on the floor. When things finally settled down, Ellington settled in on a 7-for-10 night shooting from the outside. He finished with 32 points, the highest total of the day at the Challenge.
All during the fall period the whispers existed that Ellington was making his move and improving his game. Now, Ellington looks much more like a Top 10 prospect than a Top 20 player. He calls himself a combo guard and you can't argue with that. Ellington is good with the ball, more than capable of exploding off the wing for timely drives and while he's not going to shoot 70% from 3-point range each time out, you can plainly see he's reliable from out there.
As impressive as Ellington was, his high school teammate Gerald Henderson didn't look too shabby either. Henderson's game expands seemingly each time we see him. He's got one of those smooth, college-level shooting guard's scoring packages, especially with his mid-range game off the pull up. However, Henderson seems to be getting even stronger off the drive and he's more explosive than we originally pictured him to be. He had 13 points in the win.
The story of the game, had Ellington not gone crazy from the perimeter, would have been Lance Thomas. The Jersey product did all he could to give his team hope. In typical Thomas fashion, he worked his magic inside, made his free throws (6-for-6) and played the game with passion. Without him, Jersey would have been in trouble.
Philadelphia (84) – Wayne Ellington 32, Andrew Jones 0, Malik Alvin 8, Derrick Rivera 8, Reggie Redding 6, Gerald Henderson 13, Jason Love 4, Earl Pettis 8, Dan Geriot 3, Darrin Govens 2.
New Jersey (77) – Q'arron Calhoun 4, Lance Thomas 22, Brian Zoubek 5, Earl Clark 8, Desean Butler 10, Kimanni Barrett 15, Luis Guzman 0, Eugene Harvey 3, Geoff Rizk 6.
NOTES – Zoubek is heading to Stanford Wednesday of this week for an unofficial visit. The Cardinal has offered him a scholarship and he'll be out in California through the weekend with his family. … Ellington stated that N.C. State, Villanova and UConn had been recruiting him the hardest. … Earl Clark said he's got a lot of schools but UConn, Syracuse and Georgia are showing a lot of early interest. … MVP trophies were awarded to Ellington and Thomas. …