One piece of news that we haven’t commented on yet is the transfer of Malik Ellison to the University of Pittsburgh to play for Kevin Stallings. Ellison, a sophomore who averaged around seven points and three rebounds per game in both of his seasons with the St. John’s Red Storm, will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Pitt, the former Big East school now in the ACC, has struggled in recent years compared to their Big East highs. After a change in coaches, where embattled Jamie Dixon moved on to his alma mater Texas Christian, the Pittsburgh Panthers hired Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings, a coach with some solid success in coaching offensive-minded teams.
Ellison, after sitting a season, will play in a highly-competitive ACC conference. Who he will play with is a question; the Panthers lose their entire starting lineup next season, and the players on the bench played limited minutes with limited effectiveness.
Ellison has a chance to earn a lot of playing time - and continue the progression he had with St. John’s. Though his scoring was inconsistent, overall Ellison enjoyed a better season - shooting more accurately, improving his on-ball defense and his steal/ block numbers, all while committing fewer turnovers.
He was unable to replicate his passing or his ability to draw fouls in his second season, however. If those skills return in a more featured role, he can be a solid rotation played for the Panthers.
Meanwhile, while St. John’s may feel his loss on the court, his absence will likely be lessened by the presence of Arizona transfer Justin Simon. Simon is likely to play heavy minutes, and should bring highly-rated athleticism to the floor.
Ellison’s minutes would have likely have been reduced due to Simon’s presence. For a player who wants a large role and heavy minutes to help him realize his skills, a transfer away from St. John’s made sense.
If Simon’s athleticism can replicate or improve upon Ellison’s defensive presence - and if Simon can improve his shooting and playmaking from his spot minutes during a season in the desert with Arizona - the transfer can be one where both the player who transferred and the team that lost Ellison will be equally happy.