Merion (Pa.) The Episcopal Academy
Wayne Ellington is good for a number of reasons. He's versatile enough to play both guard positions – he can legitimately handle the ball which enables him to play both guards spots. He's got excellent size, he's one of the best wing athletes in the country and the guy can just flat out score – it doesn't matter how – inside, outside, follow dunk, you name it … and his jumpshot is even better than I thought it was. One of the other strengths is he's a good offensive rebounder – he really goes hard to the glass.
Ellington, for a high school player, is really, really advanced skill wise. It's getting hard and harder to find overall flaws in his game. The things we thought he's needed to do to become a better player, he's done – better three-point shooter, better pull up game off the dribble.
That's a real credit to him – he's taken some areas he needed to improve on and turned them into straight up strengths.
He is far and away the best two guard prospect in high school basketball's class of 2006.
He has weaknesses, but as a high school player coming into college, I'm not sure what more you want the guy to do. The same old stuff will apply to him that applies to all incoming college players – he'll need to be ready for a different level of defense, you're going to have to crank up your defense all the time. But those things are across the board for everybody else. As a high school two guard, Ellington presents unbelievable problems when you're trying to guard him and slow him down. There's not a high school coach in the country that could set up something and have the players take him out of his game. He's just rounded himself out so well that you're basically at the point of the opposing high school team just hoping he has a bad night.
Everybody has weaknesses, but with Ellington, you're talking about a guy in high school who has rounded himself out – every time you see him something has gotten better. I thought he was a good ballhandler, he's become a better ballhandler. He was a good shooter, then he goes and becomes a knock-down shooter this summer. We wrote about the need for a pull-up jumper, he's got that now. And he now really attacks the basket with success.
He was the MVP of the first-ever Eddie Griffin Challenge (Pa. vs. N.J.), so the expectation was pretty high coming into the second one in Oct., 2004. He had three points at the half, and he didn't look bad because he was getting others involved, but he just didn't take over in the scoring department. Once the third quarter started, he began what can best be described as a shooting spree. During the middle of it, Ellington's AAU coach, Jimmy Salmons, gets on the building microphone and declares, "Wayne Ellington is killing the entire state of New Jersey." He goes for 29 points in the second half, and they were down by double digits in the first. He makes 5 or 6 threes in a row – it was just a ridiculous performance (see shot chart, inset). The entire building is buzzing and rare is a time where a guy gets it buzzing like that. It was one of those games where you say, ‘If I wasn't there, I'd have a hard time believing what I just saw.'
He's headed to play the exact same kind of role that a Julius Hodge plays for NC State – big guard with the ball, can be your primary scorer, but is unselfish and can play point. He's a better athlete than Julius and he's going to be stronger, but this guy is an elite level athlete for a guard. Can you put him out there as the only point on the floor? No question, he can be your primary ball handler. The difference between him and a lot of scoring points is that most guys who go for 25 a night don't have the ability to pass the basketball like this guy does or don't have the desire to pass it like this guy does.
No. 4 -- We have him as the No. 1 perimeter player behind Kevin Durant, who is somewhat of a freak at 6-9. When you are talking about straight two-guards, to me Wayne Ellington is pretty much in a class by himself as a shooting guard. There's Wayne Ellington, and then there is a gap between him and Daequan Cook and that's where the rest of the guys fall. That's nothing that we didn't see coming. Before the AAU season even started we said that Ellington was the guy to watch and that he was running some people down – well, he eventually ran everybody down and is far and away the best two guard prospect in high school basketball's class of 2006.
This is a wing with bounce, savvy and he doesn't need to have the ball to be a good player. Some day in his career, he's going to find himself playing point guard -- like was the case with Baron Davis, in that he was a high scoring guard who could evolve into a star point. I don't know what else there is to say about Wayne Ellington. At this point we've covered him long enough to know he's a true impact player in the ACC and the national level.