2005 Spotlight: Monta Ellis

While the focus surrounds Marvin Williams and bringing in a frontcourt player for next year's class, it could be a guard that is the cornerstone of North Carolina's following class.

Greg Paulus has already been identified as the primary target, but it may not be easy to pry the New Yorker from the likes of Notre Dame, Duke and Syracuse.

Another elite guard from the class is Lanier (Miss.) combo Monta Ellis, who said he prefers to stay down south for his college ball.

Ellis said that Alabama, Mississippi State, Auburn and Ole Miss are his four leaders, but one school could change all that if they were to offer a scholarship.

"North Carolina is where I really want to go," said the 6-4, 190-pound Ellis. "When I was growing up, I watched them a lot."

Ellis finally got some preliminary interest from the Tar Heels a couple weeks ago when he received a letter from the Tar Heels staff.

"I've got it in my car right now," he added. "I may frame it."

Ellis averaged 27.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5 assists per game this past season for a loaded Lanier club.

He can score in a variety of ways, but his strength is going to the basket.

"He does everything a coach wants you to do," Lanier coach Thomas Billups said. "He always makes sure he leads the team and never gets rattled. He's also one of the top people I've ever coached."

Billups is not the only one who is high on Ellis' skills. After numerous impressive showings on the national stage the last four months, Prep Stars has Ellis at No. 3 in the Class of 2005 in their recently released spring rankings.

"You can put Ellis into that category of ultra-talented guards," writes Prep Stars' top analyst, Rob Harrington. "The slender young floor general is very quick and has loads of dribble moves. Ellis streaks out in the open court and finishes gracefully using good elevation and body control. His shot lacks rotation, but he still makes his share of threes. More than anything, Ellis must learn how to keep everyone involved and make good decisions with the ball."

Ellis will play with the Magnolia Stars this summer and said that the main thing he'll be looking at when it comes down to making a decision on where he'll play his college ball is who is already in the fold at his position.

"I'm a good ballhandler, a great shooter and am not too good on defense," Ellis admits. "I shoot more three-pointers, but it really doesn't matter to me."

Ellis will be at the NBA Camp this week and will also attend the Nike All-American Camp in July.

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