When De La Salle coach Tom White talked with Minnesota coach Tubby Smith this weekend during his star player's official visit to the Big Ten school, he didn't learn anything new about Alvin Ellis. The superlatives Smith spoke of in regard to Ellis, while refreshing to hear, were what White has become accustomed to over the past three-plus years.
"Tubby says loyalty is in the heart and you either have it or you don't," White says of their conversation.
When you consider the defections that have taken place at De La Salle over the past year -- Jaylon Tate to Simeon, Gavin Schilling to Findlay Prep, Alex Foster to Seton and Demarcus Richardson to Curie -- it's easy to appreciate what seems like the lone soldier standing. Ellis, the talented 6-4 wing, stayed true to De La Salle and stayed put when everyone expected him to bolt, which was highlighted in this Hoops Report blog last month.
Smith appreciates that loyalty and will welcome it over the next four years. Ellis committed to Smith and the Golden Gophers on Sunday.
Also not surprising was the fact the Minnesota players gave Smith an Ellis endorsement while he was on the official visit, according to White. The players hit it off with Ellis, which is vitally important to Smith, the veteran head coach.
"The players loved Alvin," White says he was told. "And Tubby said he knew De La Salle prepares kids well for college."
Ellis, currently among the top 10 prospects in the Hoops Report's Class of 2013 player rankings in Illinois, is Minnesota's first commitment in the Class of 2013. He will bring length, versatility and, with his athleticism, finishing ability to the Gophers.
"He said it just felt right," says Ellis' father, Alvin Ellis, Sr.
Ellis was especially appreciative of the interest Smith and his staff showed in the closing stages of his recruitment, including an open gym visit two weeks ago.
"They all roll the red carpet out when you visit, no matter where you go," Alvin Ellis, Sr. said of prospects on official visits. "But Alvin believed coach Smith was the guy who could help his game develop the most and the one who could help him develop as a young man. It was good to see Alvin thinking beyond basketball."
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