Nothing has ever come easy for Octavius Ellis.
From enduring a horror no child should ever have to endure, to his career at Cincinnati, Ellis has battled more adversity than many players (or people for that matter) face in their lifetime.
Despite everything, Ellis closed out his career at UC in 2015-16 as an integral part of the Bearcats' defense with his length, timing, and lateral quickness, which allowed him to guard players inside and outside and disrupt shots all over the floor. Ellis made up for his lost time after his dismissal from the team and more importantly, set himself up with a chance, albeit a slight one, to get taken in the 2016 NBA draft.
Most expect Ellis to go undrafted Thursday night. But if one team does decide to take a chance with Ellis, they could be getting a steal. At 6'10 with impressive length and an improving 235-pound frame, Ellis looks the part of an NBA big man. He has the athleticism to match, as he possesses excellent quickness, agility and explosiveness. He must continue to add more muscle to his frame, but he nevertheless has the physical tools to hold his own at the pro level.
Ellis’s offensive game is unspectacular but he gets the ball in the basket in a few ways, running in transition, cutting to the basket or cleaning up his teammates' misses. He is able to use his physical tools and instincts to his advantage, putting himself in the position to score without necessarily ever being featured in Cincinnati's offense.
Many teams might not pick Ellis due to his previous on and off court issues like the NCAA tournament ejection or his involvement in the Crosstown Punchout, but he has come a long way from those past events. Two teams invited Ellis to attend pre-draft workouts in the Washington Wizards and his hometown Memphis Grizzlies.
The Wizards would make sense with the struggles they had on rebounds last season, finishing 26th in the league. Ellis would provide another body with potential to help on the glass. Unfortunately for Ellis, the Wizards currently do not have a pick in this year's draft, so they would need to trade in to participate.
The Grizz could give Ellis a chance for a few reasons. He's a local kid and the grit-and-grind mantra Memphis has championed in recent years is right in Ellis' wheelhouse. If there was any spot that I think Ellis could go on Thursday, it is pick No. 57 in the second round to Memphis.
Ellis' ceiling as an NBA player may not be the highest, as he compares favorably to a player like Marrese Speights of the Golden State Warriors. Not the flashiest of scorers, but each can do enough to hold his own in games, securing rebounds, eating minutes, playing help defense and protecting the rim. Ellis could play a key bench role to a team like Speights has done with the Warriors.
The odds are against Ellis getting picked on Thursday, but what is a little more adversity to overcome for the big man? Ellis has proven he can get past anything.