Ellis Talks About IU Commitment

It's been a long, difficult journey to Bloomington for Coach Kelvin Sampson's latest verbal commit, Jamarcus Ellis. Ellis talks about what he's learned from losing both of his parents as a youngster, and how the last two years at Chipola J.C. have helped him grow...

Bloomington, Ind. – It's been a long road to Division I basketball for Jamarcus Ellis.

The 6-5, 200-pound Chicago native verbally committed to Indiana Monday morning, becoming the second member of Coach Kelvin Sampson's 2007 recruiting class. He'll suit up for the Hoosiers beginning in the fall of 2007, three years removed from an all-state prep career at Chicago Public League powerhouse Westinghouse H.S.

Ellis originally signed with Texas A&M and Coach Billy Gillespie before the start of his senior season at Westinghouse, but didn't qualify academically. After enrolling at the Laurinburg (N.C.) Institute in the fall of 2004, Ellis departed at the semester break and enrolled at Chipola (Fla.) Junior College that winter. That left him on the sidelines for the entire 2004-05 campaign, and he returned to the court this past season.

After a debut season at Chipola that included 13.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 2.5 blocks per game, Ellis caught the eye of the Indiana staff. IU's tradition, coupled with Coach Kelvin Sampson's track record with junior college guards, lured him to Bloomington.

"It's a big-time basketball state," said Ellis, who picked IU over Iowa, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Ole Miss. "The tradition of Indiana, it's exciting. It's big-time there."

Ellis' commitment seemingly brings to an end to a three-year journey to major college basketball, an experience that the latest IU commit doesn't take lightly.

"(Indiana) is a good opportunity for me, because it's been a long road to where I am now," Ellis said. "The Big Ten is one of the best conferences in college basketball. I have to get in there, take care of business, and not let myself down."

Ellis believes he's up to the task, both on the court and off.

On the court, he said Sampson envisions using him anywhere in the backcourt. He's spent most of his time on the wing, but the Hoosier coach thinks he also has the ability to have the ball in his hands at times as well.

"I feel I can do it all," Ellis said. "I think if I get in there and do my job, I'll fit in there and we'll have success."

He'll also bring the sort of toughness that Sampson covets as well.

"Coach Sampson, he likes tough guards," Ellis said. "He doesn't like his players to get run over on the court. He likes tough guys and I guess that's why he got me."

While Ellis' numbers at the high school and junior college level suggest he's up to the challenge of playing Big Ten basketball, he also thinks he's now better prepared to tackle things away from the basketball floor. Off the court, he believes the last two years have been instrumental to his development, thanks to the opportunity to get away from home and be out on his own.

"Junior college helped me mature as a person," Ellis said. "Coming out of high school, there were a lot of things I didn't understand and I didn't understand them until I got into junior college. By me being on my own, being without a mother or father, it helped me become a better man, doing what I need to do – going to school, going to class, so I have a chance to play basketball."

Overcoming challenges isn't anything new. While growing up in downtown Chicago, Ellis lost both his parents. His father was stabbed to death when Jamarcus was six, and his mother died to lung cancer when he was in the eighth grade. That left Ellis not only on his own, but also very much in charge as the oldest of five brothers and one sister in his family.

That experience taught him many things about life, and also to appreciate the opportunity he now has at Indiana.

"It really motivated me to overcome a lot of things," Ellis said. "It makes me think, ‘what if I wasn't going to school, if I wasn't playing basketball, where would I be?' So I try to keep it positive."

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