Ellis, Schilling ready for big stage in college basketball
When Alvin Ellis III was sitting down on Breslin Center’s floor during last week’s media day, with more than 14,000 empty seats above him, his mind went back to Midnight Madness.
Before his name was the first one called to introduce the team, Ellis nervously waited walking down the stairs with Future’s “Chosen One” blaring from the speakers. But once he emerged, Ellis got a feeling for what he will be in for when thousands of seats are filled with a sea of green and white on gameday.
“It was a great atmosphere and opportunity to come out,” the freshman guard said. “(The energy) didn’t surprise me, I knew it was going to be hype … The place was filled and packed to capacity.”
Ellis joins 6-foot-9-inch forward Gavin Schilling as the two freshmen on this year’s team. However, the fresh faces on campus hardly are new to each other, as they were teammates at Chicago’s De La Salle Institute before Schilling transferred to Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev.
Ellis pointed out the transformation of his roommate, calling him “a monster” after how much bigger and stronger he has gotten since they shared a court two years ago.
Head coach Tom Izzo didn’t shy away from cranking up the dials on the hype machine, saying both have been surprises during the offseason with their quick progression.
“They’re both strong, they’re both tough, and they’re both great athletes,” Izzo said. “(Schlling is) tougher than nails and he can run as well as anybody on this team in a race … (Ellis is) a guy that we are growing to love because he’s just a great kid. (He’s) kind of a jack-of-all-trades guy — he does everything well.”
Izzo also compared Schilling to Antonio Smith, one of the pioneers of MSU’s illustrious list of teams. Maybe the most notable area of comparison is the strength Schilling displays day-in and day-out during practice.
“I’m an energy type of player — working hard, running the floor and giving 100 percent in everything I do,” the German-born forward said.
One reason Schilling’s move from prep school to college hoops is going well comes from his experience at Findlay Prep, a national powerhouse.
“It definitely made the transition easier for me, because over there they prepared me for this college level and the physicality, and I’m definitely grateful I went there,” Schilling said.
With Ellis’ high-flying skills combined with his ability to shoot the long ball, and Schilling’s gritty and speedy style of play, the duo could be a key factor in MSU’s highly anticipated season.