Bloomington, Ind. – Persistence paid off for the IU staff with Jamarcus Ellis.
Despite initial indications that the 6-5, 200-pound wing guard from Chipola (Fla.) J.C. might not sign this fall and would instead wait until the spring, the IU staff stayed after the former Chicago Westinghouse standout. They were rewarded for that work Monday morning when Ellis verbally committed to IU.
"He committed this morning," said Chipola J.C. Coach Greg Heiar. "He's very excited about the opportunity up there in Hoosier Nation. It's a great opportunity for Jamarcus, and it's a great get for Indiana. He's one of the top five, if not top three, junior college players in the country.
"They came and watched him and loved what they saw in him. He's the type of guard that Coach Sampson has a lot of success with because of his length and versatility, able to play multiple positions."
Ellis is coming off a big debut season at Chipola, averaging 13.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2.5 steals for Heiar's program. He filled a plethora of needs for Heiar's team, and his JUCO coach believes he can do the same in Bloomington.
"I call him a stat filler," Heiar said. "He's very, very, very competitive, and he's a winner. He won a state title in high school, and every team he has been on has won. He's unselfish and works really hard."
Ellis originally signed with Texas A&M out of high school in 2004 after averaging 20 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 blocks as a high school senior. Ultimately, though, he was forced to go the junior college route. He enrolled at Chipola in December, sat out the 2004-05 season, and returned to the floor last year, earning first-team all-conference honors.
He'll now get a chance to return to the Midwest, where he'll be much closer to a Chicago area that has kept a close eye on him ever since his standout prep career in the Chicago Public League.
"He comes from a rough basketball and family life, so he doesn't have a lot of support there," Heiar said. "But at the same time, he has a lot of support because the city of Chicago thinks the world of him."
The same can be said about IU Coach Sampson and his staff, which targeted him early and pursued him hard. While that was big in Ellis' eyes, so was the fact that Sampson has had a great deal of success with junior college players, particularly guards.
"In the back of Jemarcus' head, that was a big selling point," Heiar said. "All the success Coach Sampson has had with junior college guards. Him being a minority and having success with junior college guards, really helped with the recruitment."
JUCO Coach Talks About Ellis
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