Former FSW guard Keon Ellis signs NBA contract, first in Bucs history, with Sacramento Kings

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Keon Ellis, who played two years at Florida SouthWestern before transferring to the University of Alabama, made history by signing a two-year, two-way contract with the Sacramento Kings and their G League affiliate in Stockton, California. He is the first former Buccaneers player to ink a deal with an NBA team.

"That's what I coach for," FSW men's basketball head coach Eric Murphy said. "To me, that's what it's all about. It's not so much about wins and losses as it is trying to help these guys achieve their dreams."

Alabama guard Keon Ellis (14) shoots over guard Blake Wesley (0) during the first half of a first-round NCAA college basketball tournament game, Friday, March 18, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
Alabama guard Keon Ellis (14) shoots over guard Blake Wesley (0) during the first half of a first-round NCAA college basketball tournament game, Friday, March 18, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Ellis, who could not be reached for comment, went unselected in this year's NBA Draft Thursday and agreed to the deal on Friday. Every NBA team is allowed two players on their roster who are on two-way contracts and don't count toward the NBA's 15-man roster limit.

More: NBA Draft 2022: Where could former FSW star, Alabama player Keon Ellis be selected?

More: Former FSW teammates Berrick JeanLouis, Keon Ellis to reunite in first round of March Madness

In 2018, Ellis arrived at FSW after leading Leesburg High School to back-to-back state championships. Murphy recalls being excited early upon Keon's arrival.

"You can just see the talent from day one," Murphy said. "He was a winner, a two-time state champion. You saw he can be a really, really good player."

Keon Ellis practices with his Florida SouthWestern State College teammates on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, in Fort Myers.
Keon Ellis practices with his Florida SouthWestern State College teammates on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, in Fort Myers.

As a Bucs sophomore, Ellis averaged 18.1 points per game on a 53.6% field goal percentage. He averaged just over four rebounds and two assists a game.

Murphy believes Ellis' work ethic put him in a position to be successful at the highest level.

"His jump from his freshman year to his sophomore year was a big-time jump," said Murphy about Ellis, who averaged eight points as a freshman. "I always say it contributes to his work ethic. He just was more dedicated to the game, I think all the small details got really important to him."

After two strong seasons at FSW, Ellis earned a roster spot in Tuscaloosa. There, he averaged just over 12 points and six rebounds per game on 43.7% shooting. As a senior, Ellis was the only Crimson Tide player to start all 33 games. He led Alabama in plus-minus at plus-87 and earned a spot on the All-SEC defensive team. Ellis, at 6-foot-4 and 167 pounds, showed an ability to keep up with a variety of players. He led the team in steals with 64; no one else had more than 32. His 19 blocks were also third on the team.

Alabama guard Keon Ellis (14) drives around Notre Dame forward Paul Atkinson Jr. (20) during the first half of a first-round NCAA college basketball tournament game, Friday, March 18, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
Alabama guard Keon Ellis (14) drives around Notre Dame forward Paul Atkinson Jr. (20) during the first half of a first-round NCAA college basketball tournament game, Friday, March 18, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Alabama has seen five players drafted since 2018 and had three players sign NBA contracts this year.

Murphy says Ellis' signing a prove-it deal with an NBA team isn't an unfamiliar feeling.

"He's had to prove himself his whole life," Murphy said. "I told him this is the same deal you were in when you came to junior college, and you made it out of that. So you'll make it out of this, too."

FSW has been consistently sending players to Division I programs. This year, the Bucs had four players commit to Division I schools. As the pipeline continues to flow to high-level programs, there are more chances FSW will add to its NBA ranks, but Ellis will remain the first.

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Keon Ellis signs with Sacramento Kings after four seasons at FSW, Alabama