The most important addition to St. John's this offseason was Chris Mullin. While the man with the buzz cut won't be strapping on sneakers and running the floor, his hiring as coach signals a new era in St. John's basketball. Of course, Mullin's new era will not be just about him. After all, he can't win games by walking on the floor and having the AV guys at Madison Square Garden play his college highlight reel.
No, for Mullin to light a spark in the basketball jungle of New York City, especially with a St John's team that pretty much lost all of its core from last season, he must have players and good ones at that. He has certainly added quite a few, including crown jewel Marcus LoVett. But we're not here to talk about LoVett. My colleague Christopher Novak already did that. Instead, let's focus on a player who could very well be the Robin to LoVett's Batman in the years to come.
His name is Malik Ellison and he signed with St. John's in early May. A 6-foot-6 combination guard, who will likely be called on to play multiple spots on the floor, Ellison addresses an area of desperate need for the Red Storm. That would be scoring. Even with D'Ángelo Harrison piling up buckets all last season and throughout his career, the Red Storm only ranked 127th in the country in offensive rating (104.6). Ellison could very well step in right away and take all the shots that Harrison left behind in Queens.
Originally from Bryn Mawr, Pa., which is just down the road from Villanova, Ellison played his high school ball at Life Center Academy in Voorhees, N.J. He had an outstanding senior campaign and boosted himself all the way to a 3-star rating on ESPN and 247 Sports. He averaged 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists a game as a senior, effectively showing off his diverse skill set and ability to contribute in multiple ways. The hope is that he will develop as a player that works off the ball, a skill he already has but can always improve. This is of primary importance because LoVett is likely to dominate the ball handling duties for this young squad.
Now, pardon me for burying the lead, but Ellison also has deep basketball roots. His father is none other than Pervis Ellison, who tore up the court at Louisville before being selected first overall in the 1989 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings.
It is all these factors (scoring ability, versatility and basketball genes) that prodded Mullin to go after Ellison.
"Malik is an explosive athlete who comes from an outstanding basketball family," Mullin said in St. John's announcement of Ellison's signing. "He has a natural scoring ability and can thrive in our program because of his relentless work ethic. Malik is a good shooter with range and handles the ball well."
Ellison chose St. John's over Maryland, Seton Hall, Temple, Xavier, South Carolina and a handful of others. Now, sit back and let the smooth styling's of this young man's game wash over your eyeballs.