Cody Ellis has finally arrived, and he appears to be worth the wait.
The freshman forward made his collegiate debut Jan. 9 and had an immediate impact in Saint Louis' 63-58 victory over Richmond in its Atlantic 10 opener. Ellis had 10 points, five rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes of reserve duty.
Ellis was the top player in Saint Louis' recruiting class. However, he remained in his native Australia during the first semester and missed the season's first 14 games while waiting for the NCAA to rule him eligible.
Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus, whose team is 10-5, gave Ellis the option of taking a redshirt and made it clear that he hoped he would go that route. However, Ellis was eager to play and showed he was ready to contribute.
"He brings in another thing to our team," Saint Louis guard Kwamain Mitchell told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "He can pick and pop and hit the open three. He can set good, tough screens. He's running the floor well. I don't see him struggling up and down the floor."
Majerus, though, realizes Ellis still has plenty of room for improvement after having been in uniform for just one week.
"He's got every conceivable issue a man could have," Majerus said. "Each day, he's been a little bit better but how much progress can you make? The thing I worry about Cody is frustration or expectations. I try to tell people it's not baseball, where you hit or pitch, or football, where you catch or pass. It's the ultimate team game. Right now, I think he's very aware of wanting to be cooperative and be a member of the team. He's probably bending over backwards trying to fit in."
Saint Louis is 25-8 at home in conference games since joining the Atlantic 10 in 2005-06.
Saint Louis is 29-4 when it holds opponents under 60 points during Rick Majerus' three seasons as coach.
ON THE SPOT:
F Cody Ellis is being counted on to provide scoring and rebounding in a reserve role after sitting out the first 14 games of his freshman season while awaiting the NCAA to rule on his eligibility. The Australian had a fine debut Jan. 9 as he had 10 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench in a 63-58 victory over Richmond in the Billikens' Atlantic 10 opener.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"Being Cody's sensei, I'm happy with my little grasshopper there." -- Saint Louis F Brian Conklin, who was asked to take Ellis under his wing.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Saint Louis won its first four games but then split its last 10 non-conference games. However, the Billikens beat Richmond in their conference opener, which also marked the debut of F Cody Ellis, a highly touted freshman, who waited in his native Australia until being ruled eligible by the NCAA. G Kwamain Mitchell is averaging 16.0 points a game and F Willie Reed is averaging 13.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots.
Saint Louis 60, Eastern Illinois 42
Bowling Green 59, Saint Louis 50
Saint Louis 63, Richmond 58
Saint Louis split two games with Duquesne, winning 78-74 at home then losing 70-68 on the road one month later. Reed scored 12 points for Saint Louis and Mitchell added 10 in the victory while Damian Saunders had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Duquesne and Bill Clark scored 13 points. Mitchell had 17 points in the loss while Clark led Duquesne with 19 points and Eric Evans added 17.
F Willie Reed was suspended for the 63-58 victory over Richmond on Jan. 9 for violation of a team rule. He is expected to return for the Jan. 13 game at Duquesne.
F Cory Remekun started in Reed's place and had four points and three rebounds in 16 minutes. It was Remekun's third start in the last four games after the freshman came off the bench in the first 11.
G Femi John did not start against Richmond after being in the lineup the previous eight games but scored six points in 13 minutes off the bench. G Kyle Cassity took his place in the lineup and had four points in 22 minutes.