In three seasons, Wayne Ellington has played in 14 games in which the Tar heels have lost. In addition, the Tar Heels have lost only 14 games in their last three seasons. It's safe to say that with the arrival of Ellington and Lawson, the back-court duo has been one of the most lethal; perhaps the deadliest. However, the college game is much more different then the NBA and many assume that the hardwood is the same in both leagues. Aside from the rules, certain game regulations and roster rules, the entire style and tempo is polar opposite. At times the men and women broadcasting the game can refer to a player as 'NBA-ready'. How often does that happen? Nearly never and essentially close to rare. So what is the verdict for Wayne Ellington? Is he completely 'NBA-ready' or are only a few aspect of his game prepared for the pros?
The 'graduated' junior is mostly recognized for his work from long range. His mid-range game is just as efficient when looking at stats. In the light of the college game, he's been one of those cool-headed players who does not show extreme amounts of emotion or anger in his game. Sure he's got game, and a gorgeous stroke, but poise and composure are all over this guy.
Looking at Ellington and his stat sheet, an improving 3% is almost rare in the NCAA. On top of that, the 2008-2009 season had the 3-point line extended slightly. Superb. His minutes increased and have stayed steady after his freshmen year, his points shot up as well and remained horizontal. Crashing the boards, making smart passes and generally shooting the ball with more precision are the trends of Ellington. What makes him so good? I could make a good debate that it is the 'North Carolina' atmosphere he's been in for 3 years. Maybe it's him though. Wayne may be developing to be a serious threat in the NBA from the field.
In the 2009 NCAA Tournament the Ellington stock rose significantly. Thank goodness he stayed another year. Not only did I enjoy his junior game and his dedication to a phenomenal program, but he was needed in this tournament. Looking at only the last 2 games, Final Four and Championship game, he was all over the court. He splashed 3's off pick and roles and back door passes; it was mind boggling. Another part of his game which probably drew the attention of several NBA scouts was his drive. He drove the net so many times against Villanova and Michigan State it didn't feel like we were watching Wayne. Maybe he had just been hiding this fierce rim attacking attitude? Doesn't matter anymore. He came in and helped the Heels win a Championship, now he's on his way to the pros where he'll continue to do what he does best - hit shots.
So is he NBA-ready? For a 6-foot-4 200-pound guard I think he could shape up a little more. As an athlete he is a great competitor and we've seen him shoot deep shots late in a game. He is conditioned but is he ready for a physical NBA? Not sure yet. Nevertheless, he may not even need it. I highly doubt that is game plan assignment will be based on driving it to the post and big men. It will remain on the outside and in the mid-range court.
A pretty decorated college career of a great shooter has come to an end - but in the pros it has yet to begin as many of us Tar Heel fans are hoping for a 1st round selection... but I don't think it matters that much because our recruits have relative done well in the NBA in comparison to Duke. When I think of sharp-shooters who have played in the NCAA, Ellington is right away in my mind.
I just hope that I won't be saying J.J. Redick when he finishes his rookie season.