As released by St. John’s on Wednesday, both Malik Ellison and Darien Williams announced their intentions to transfer out of Queens.
Williams was a graduating senior. This allows him to pursue graduate transfer opportunities for next year. On the other hand, Ellison has only played two seasons at St. John’s. Ellison will have to sit out one season before concluding his collegiate career.
Ellison’s transfer comes as a bit of a surprise to some. Ellison, the swingman who was touted as a breakout candidate before the season started, maintained his points-per game average from last season while becoming more efficient overall from the floor - but his free throw attempts dwindled this season as his jump shot improved. Last season he averaged about 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists per contest. Ellison concluded last year shooting 42% from the field, and 34% from three-point territory.
Still, his overall efficiency improved, all while managing a number of roles for St. John’s - defending the opponent’s best player, providing some scoring punch and serving at times as an extra point guard behind Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds.
Still, playing time would be at a premium next season.
Assuming Marcus LoVett is returning, Ellison would fight for playing time behind Ponds and LoVett (both who will log upwards of 30 minutes a game unless foul trouble strikes), Federico Mussini and Justin Simon, the Arizona transfer whose skill set seems similar to Malik Ellison’s, though with more athleticism and less of a jump shot.
Perhaps LoVett will return? According to Zach Braziller of the New York Post, LoVett will most likely remain at St. John’s.
Malik Ellison was a playing time issue I'm told. All signs point to Marcus LoVett Jr. returning per source #sjubb— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) March 29, 2017
Still, the team will miss Ellison - and good luck to him if he chooses to go through with the transfer.
“I would like to thank the coaching staff and administration for supplying a family atmosphere and allowing me to better myself as an individual,” said Ellison in the press release from St. John’s. “I also would like to thank all my teammates with whom I spent a great two years with and developed strong bonds that I hope to continue in the future. Obviously, this was a difficult decision, but my family and I have decided it is best for me.”
As for Williams, he emerged as a valuable frontcourt piece. In the absence of Yankuba Sima, who transferred to Oklahoma State, Williams was asked to assume a larger role.
Although inconsistent, he added a tough presence around the rim. Last season he averaged about 4 points, and 3 rebounds per game.
“St. John’s is a great place,” said Williams in a Red Storm release. “It has been an honor to be part of a program with such history and tradition. I want to thank Coach Mullin and the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to share some great memories and earn my degree from such a highly-regarded University.”
With Williams’ departure, the need for an immediately-eligible big man becomes a high priority. Often, Williams was the only big man who could hold his position and keep the opponent from feasting on the glass against the small and slim St. John’s roster. There will certainly be an opportunity for St. John’s, as numerous big men from around the country have hit the transfer market. and there will be opportunities for Williams, as well.