USC defeated Stanford Saturday night, headlined by a strong Boogie Ellis performance. On the night, he had 22 points on 8/14 shooting, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, and only 1 turnover.
Ellis’ maturity on the court has stood out all season, playing in a crowded backcourt that many other guards would play selfishly in to establish themselves as the senior and alpha. Boogie Ellis’ adaptability, flexibility, and versatility have been commendable, playing with all eyes on him with top recruit Isaiah Collier or Bronny James beside him in most, if not all, his minutes on the court. Some games he comes out and plays as the primary creator for himself and others, whereas other nights like this game he is a shooting threat off the ball as a mistake-free off-guard.
Offensively, the concerns scouts have, from conversations I have had, with Ellis revolve around drawing free throws, finishing through and around big men, negating vertical athleticism, and if he is a point guard or a 6’3 shooting guard.
Defensively, one way he leads is by playing with a nonstop motor, leading to plays like this:
While not a stopper by any means on the defensive end, Ellis has the right mindset and checks the motor box, which accounts for nearly half of defensive ability. He also is noticeably active in communicating on defense, being the first to point out a screen and talking with teammates to help make quick adjustments. However, USC’s defense has been underwhelming this year, ranking 9th in the PAC-12. This is not attributed directly to him, but is something he will likely have to answer to scouts and front office members in the draft cycle.
With two-way potential at the guard slot, Boogie Ellis is an interesting prospect in a flooded field. Ellis’ ability to thrive both as the point guard and the shooting guard makes him someone that should succeed as a rookie in the G League, likely ending up on a two-way contract. This means he will likely play more minutes in the G League than the NBA as a rookie, where he can capitalize on the opportunity to be a great spot-up shooter while mastering P&R play as a point guard, which could propel him to a call-up in the NBA for a team that will potentially need guard depth.
While Boogie Ellis is a common guard, he can answer scouts’ questions about what he does that stands out above similar players: through on-court intangibles, versatile guard-play, and a good motor that allows him to play bigger at times and never shy away from unfavorable matchups defensively, Ellis is not the typical 6’3 guard. These traits are what NBA teams look for in guards that blend in physically, in addition to his strong feel for the game. If Boogie Ellis can become a full-time point guard while maintaining his off-ball prowess, Ellis has a chance to be one of the top upperclassmen sleepers in the 2024 NBA Draft.