The Portland Trail Blazers have found themselves another gym rat who hates to lose.
Portland selected Washington State sophomore wing CJ Elleby No. 46 overall in Wednesday night’s NBA draft.
Elleby is a true scorer that can get buckets in a variety of ways, but it’s his demeanor and mentality that really caught the eye of his former WSU coach Ernie Kent.
Kent recruited Elleby out of Cleveland High School in Seattle and coached him his first year in Pullman. Kent described his former player as a “gym rat.” It was the way Elleby carried himself that put him high on Kent’s list.
The first thing I noticed about CJ was his competitive nature because he was on a team that wasn’t as stacked as some of the other teams up in Seattle. And you know the history of Seattle basketball – a lot of NBA players have come through Seattle that are still in the NBA. I just noticed how much he competed against better opponents, better teams.
Ernie Kent told NBCSNW
Elleby had his first official Trail Blazers media opportunity Thursday afternoon.
While he shared his excitement to be staying in the Pacific Northwest, he mentioned that his competitive nature was key in receiving a scholarship at Washington State.
It’s a mindset, it’s an approach and not everybody is competitive.
The versatile and fearless wing has been looked at as a 3-and-D type of NBA role player once he can fill out his frame and work on his efficiency from behind the arc.
As a freshman with the Cougars, he shot 41.4% from three on four attempts a game. That number dropped to 33.9% on 6.8 attempts per game as a sophomore, but he took on a larger offensive role and went through a few slumps in the process.
With his confidence, will to win mentality, and impressive work ethic, Coach Kent believes the 20-year-old could have a long career in the NBA.
He has a very high basketball IQ.
Kent added, “Here’s a guy that you won’t have to tell him how to play hard, he already knows how to play hard and how to compete.”
Elleby can also play the two or the three.
As he continues to work on his body and game, one thing is certain:
Rip City will love his workhouse mentality.
Everybody likes to ask that question: Do you like to win or do you hate to lose? And, I’m one of those guys that just hates to lose. So, I just feel like that’s something that I showed my coaches, coach Kent as well throughout my collegiate career.
That mentality while staying humble will most likely aid in how Elleby gets noticed once again, and how he earns his playing time at the next level.