Like Ohio high school basketball fans saw over the last two years, coaches and fans alike saw the potential, the good, and the bad of Keenan Ellis on Saturday night. He showed flashes of why he was once ranked as a top fifteen player in his class, showed why hes dropped so far in the rankings, and showed how good of a player he has the chance to become at UAB.
Ellis began the game on a tear, scoring 9 points in the games first three and a half minutes. He was buried a three pointer off the dribble, converted a jaw dropping ally-oop, and even broke down his man off of the dribble and put up a soft floater in the lane. The Indiana native was incredibly active and altered a ton of shots on the defensive end, playing inspired on both ends of the floor for the first time in a quite a while. For some reason though, American Christian coach Tony Bergeron decided to take Ellis out and sit him for the final fifteen minutes of the half, leaving many observers question why he would sit the clearly the best player on the floor for such a long stretch. Uncoincidentally, Bridgton made their run to come back in the game as Keenan was on the bench, making what once appeared like it was going to be a blowout now a competitive game.
In the second half, we saw why many dropped Ellis in the rankings. He was out of control on the offensive end handling the basketball, displayed poor shot selection, and was nowhere to be found on the defensive end. The former teammate of O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker did manage to knock down a couple of mid-range jumpers, but was downright abused on the defensive end by St. Johns signee Justin Burrell. Likewise, American Christian wound up losing a game they should have won, although hey clearly missed the scoring presence of star junior guard Tyreke Evans.
Everyone in attendance saw the good and the bad of Ellis tonight, but it was pretty clear to all in attendance that Mike Davis got a steal at UAB. Based on talent alone he is easily a top 50 player nationally, but there are many issues that could hinder him living up to his potential. First of all, Keenan is arguably the skinniest 611 player on the prep circuit, weighing only 200 lbs., and possessing a frame that does not look like it is capable of bulking up considerably. Also, there have been character issues with Keenan in the past, as this is his third high school and he was kicked off of the team at North College Hill mid season last year for reportedly fighting with Bill Walker, among other things. Regardless, we watched a super talented, freak athlete of a seven footer tonight who has the potential of really becoming something special under Mike Davis guidance if he is able to add some weight and take care of his personal issues.