While we wait for David Joplin’s announcement on Wednesday morning, Marquette men’s basketball fans got what appears to be a bit of good news on Tuesday afternoon. Corey Rholdon, a sports reporter for the CBS affiliate in the Quad Cities area, reported that Emarion Ellis has committed to play for the Golden Eagles and new head coach Shaka Smart.
A bit of clarification here: You haven’t seen Emarion Ellis’ name on Anonymous Eagle before. When Rholdon tweeted this and I went over to Ellis’ 247 Sports page to check out his ranking, it still had the “Signed With Texas In November 2020” banner across the top. Because Ellis had signed with Marquette’s new head coach at his old job in November, I had done some cursory Twitter and Google searches over the past couple of weeks to see if he had asked for his release. For whatever it’s worth, I never saw any announcement indicating that was the case.
So, yeah, this is a bit of a surprise seeing as, in theory and according to NCAA rules, Ellis has to be released from his letter of intent for Marquette and Smart to officially start recruiting him. Of course, just because this was never announced or made public doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. After all, this isn’t just Rholdon tweeting out the information. Rholdon included a graphic that clearly looks like all of the graphics that have been coming out of the McGuire Center recently, including the “MU x Jordan Brand” logo and the photo wizardry to make Ellis appear in both Marquette’s gold and Championship Blue uniforms.
In short, I’m pretty sure that Marquette has done everything completely above board here.
Let’s move on to what we know about Ellis, shall we?
247 Sports lists Ellis as a 6’5”, 175 pound combo guard out of Davenport, Iowa. He is currently rated as a four-star prospect and ranked #105 in the country according to their Composite system. That makes him the #7 combo guard in the Class of 2021 and the second best player in the state of Iowa. 247’s internal system still has Ellis as a four-star player, but they have him two notches upwards nationally at #103. ESPN agrees with the four-star rating, and they mark Ellis as the #1 player in Iowa and the #31 shooting guard in the country. He isn’t nationally ranked, but The World Wide Leader only ranks out to the top 100. Rivals is on board with the four-star rating and they’re the highest of anyone on Ellis. They have him as the #91 prospect in the country and the #22 shooting guard in the country.
Here’s what Jerry Meyer, 247 Sports’ Director of Basketball Scouting said in an evaluation of Ellis back in July of 2020:
Up and coming prospect with tremendous upside. Great length for a point guard. Has thin frame and needs added strength and mass. Has a burst of speed, can wiggle through traffic and is a good finisher off one foot. Has a low release on jumper and not known as a shooter but projects as an at least keep the defense honest shooter. Sees the court and is developing as a playmaker for others. Has a knack for rebounding. One on one defense has room for improvement but has good hands and is an opportunistic defender.
You can see why Ellis was determined to follow Smart to his new job with this bit of context from 247’s Nick Harris:
Texas had landed Ellis back in July when at the time he only held offers from three other schools including Bryant, Louisiana Tech and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Smart saw him as a high major player, and was apparently the first coach to see him as such. With Smart relocating to Milwaukee, which is notably closer to Davenport, Iowa, than Texas is, you can see why Ellis would remain loyal to the man who first believed in him. To paraphrase what Smart said in his opening press conference at Marquette, the basis for everything is relationships, and that has paid off here for the Golden Eagles.
I highly recommend you check out this article from OurQuadCities.com from — surprise! — Corey Rholdon, which includes a video feature and gives you a lot of insight into Ellis not only as a player but as a young man.
Our friends at Burnt Orange Nation, knowers of all things Texas, noted that Ellis averaged 17.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.3 steals per games as a junior at Assumption High School in their article discussing Ellis’ departure from the Longhorns’ recruiting class. As a senior this past season, Ellis averaged 17 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game, but missed 11 games due to a broken hand. That didn’t stop him from helping Assumption get to the Iowa Class 3A state semifinals, though.
There isn’t much in the way of interesting embeddable video on Ellis, but he does have a very well stocked Hudl page. Go check that out to get an idea of what kind of player he is.
Let’s adjust the scholarship table, shall we?
Ellis gives Marquette three top 175 ranked guards in their 2021 recruiting class. The Golden Eagles now have 247 Sports’ #28th ranked recruiting class which is good enough for fifth best in the Big East. Yes, half the league is in the top 30 in the country. It’s a lot.
The Golden Eagles are probably not done adding to that recruiting class, either officially or unofficially. With Ellis on board, Marquette is looking at at least two open scholarships for the 2021-22 school year right now, maybe three depending on what happens to walk-on turned scholarship player Tommy Gardiner and his recovery from his season ending knee injury. Smart has been after a number of transfer options, and the Golden Eagles have been connected to David Joplin and Tamar Bates, both of whom were released from their letters of intent to play for Smart at Texas. Things have been quiet from Bates’ camp for a little bit now, but Joplin is expected to make his collegiate announcement on Wednesday morning.