By Joe Henricksen
This is where we are at now in high school basketball in the Chicago area: A newsworthy story written on a player who is STAYING at his high school, rather than transferring.
With that being said, kudos to you, Alvin Ellis!
No program has been hit as hard or devastated more by transfers than De La Salle and coach Tom White. The veteran coach has lost a bundle of talent over the past 15 months in this basketball culture we now accept.
Jaylon Tate, who played on the varsity for White his freshman and sophomore years, transferred to Simeon last year and will be the starting point guard for the state's No. 1 ranked team this season. Highly-regarded Alex Foster, a 6-7 senior, departed for Seton Academy earlier this summer. Gavin Schilling, a high-profile transfer to De La Salle last summer, is also gone after one year. The 6-8 forward is going the prep school route and will be at Findlay Prep in Nevada this school year.
That's three players all ranked among the top 20 prospects in the Class of 2013 in Illinois who have left De La Salle. Now word is out that senior guard Demarcus Richardson will be transferring to Curie.
Which brings us back to Ellis, the talented 6-4 wing who, despite rumors he too was leaving the South Side private school, steadfastly remains at De La Salle.
"He's staying put," says Alvin's father, Alvin Ellis, Sr., of where his son will be this fall when school opens. "You can put that out there. He will be at De La Salle for his senior year."
The only real option the Ellis family explored was the possibility of attending IMG Academy in Florida, a training facility for athletic, academic and personal development in Bradenton. But Alvin Ellis, Sr. said his son "really wanted to stay at De La Salle."
"He wants to stick this out," says the dad. "He wants to stay and see what he can do this year at De La Salle and finish what he started."
So Ellis will embark on a senior campaign, along with fellow senior guard Marcus White and others, as the front man for a program whose high hopes have been fragmented.
Again, news of a high school kid staying put probably shouldn't be a story, but with the onslaught of transfers -- from role players to high-profile prospects -- it sadly is. And along with that comes a respect and admiration for Ellis, who is in an odd situation where so many of the classmates and friends he came to play with at De La Salle have left. It would have been easy for Ellis to jump ship.
They will all be attending different high schools when school begins this fall, but the trio of Foster, Tate and Ellis remain linked. All three just wrapped up their club basketball careers playing together with a loaded Meanstreets team on the AAU circuit. And though they all started their high school basketball path together at De La Salle as prized and promising freshmen, they will be finishing up their final year of high school apart.
During the 2009-2010 high school basketball season, the Hoops Report spent a night watching the De La Salle sophomore and varsity teams play early in the year. There was plenty of young talent on display, while veterans Mike Shaw and Dre Henley anchored coach Tom White's program. Tate and Foster both played significant minutes and roles at the varsity level that night, while Ellis starred on the sophomore team. It was impossible not to be impressed with the abundance of young talent at De La Salle at that time. Meteor fans and alums were feeling giddy. College coaches were flocking to the gym two blocks east of U.S. Cellular Field.
The Hoops Report remembers walking out of the gym that night feeling it would be Ellis, the kid playing on the sophomore team, that would ultimately be the top prospect among De La Salle's "Big Three" by the time they were all seniors. At that time the 6-7 Foster was the rage and Tate was shining as the fearless point guard on the varsity. Although it could be debated by some, as we head into the 2012-2013 season, it's indeed Ellis who is the highest ranked of the three in the Hoops Report's Class of 2013 player rankings. Ellis is the best prospect with the most upside of any Meteor in the past decade.
Now Ellis, who will undoubtedly have a few more suitors try to jump in the mix after wrapping up his AAU summer, has four schools that stand out: Northwestern, Kansas State, Minnesota and Wichita State.
"There could be a few more that jump in, but right now our focus will be on the four that are on the table and that we want to get to know better," says Alvin Ellis, Sr. "Alvin visited Northwestern, and we want to get to Kansas State, Minnesota and Wichita State. Those are really the four we're looking at."
There will certainly be one player the Hoops Report will be rooting for this winter: Alvin Ellis. With all coach Tom White and the program have been through over the past year or so, you better believe that will be one emotional Senior Night when Ellis plays his last home game for his coach and the fans of De La Salle.
Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport