Ready for year two

CJ Elleby returns to Beasley after his successful freshman season with the Cougars


KURIA POUNDS, Evergreen reporter

A future NBA draft prospect is ready to take his sophomore season to the next level after setting records at WSU and being named to the Pac-12’s all-freshman team.

Sophomore forward CJ Elleby averaged 14.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3 assists a game during the 2018-2019 season. Out of Cleveland High School in Seattle, he ranked 11th in the Pac-12 for average points last season.

He said he looks to improve on his scoring for this season, as well as continuing his experience at WSU before eventually reaching his goal, the NBA.

“I want to be a professional basketball player,” Elleby said. “That’s always been my dream, a goal of mine.”

Elleby has been named to the 20-member 2020 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award Watch List and to the preseason First Team All Pac-12.  This week the John R. Wooden Award committee also named Elleby to the watch list for this coveted award. Last year, former forward Robert Franks received the nomination for the Julius Erving award watch list.

Elleby said his family, especially his father, wanted him to pursue a college basketball career at WSU. His father played at California when the conference was the Pac-10 and Elleby’s father wanted Elleby to have the same success he had at Cal.

“Just growing up, he always pushed me to be the best I could at what I’m doing,” Elleby said.

One of Elleby’s teammates, senior forward Jeff Pollard said his relationship with Elleby has grown, especially off the court.

“On the court, it’s whenever we step on the floor for practice, games or whatever… he’s my teammate, my brother, we go to war together,” Pollard said.

Pollard said Elleby had wide-eyes as a freshman coming into WSU basketball, but now he knows what to expect.

At Cleveland High School, Elleby captained his sophomore, junior and senior years with the team. He averaged at least 23 points in his junior and senior year seasons with the team and led his team to the 3A state tournament his sophomore season.

Elleby said he played three sports as a child, and he chose basketball as his primary sport because of his enjoyment for basketball.

“I was just the most talented at that; it was my best sport,” Elleby said.

Another one of Elleby’s teammates, senior forward Jervae Robinson, said his relationship with Elleby grew as the season went on.

“We played more games, practiced more, just competed throughout practice, we got closer and closer,” Robinson said.

Pollard said he hopes to see Elleby grow more and he thinks Elleby is going to have a good year on the court.

“I will definitely do everything I can to help him out this year,” Pollard said.

Elleby said he wants to have a more hyped season this year with all the changes from the coaching staff.

He said the addition of new head coach Kyle Smith will hopefully help shift how people see Cougar basketball.

“I just hope we can change the culture,” Elleby said.

Elleby said his big goal for this year is to win and wants to help the team in whatever way he can.

“At the end of the day, I want us to get out the bottom of the pack, I’m tired of losing,” Elleby said.

Pollard said Elleby is just like every other college kid looking to have fun in college.

“He’s such a lighthearted person, he’s always looking to mess around and joke around,” Pollard said.