Having characteristics of both Damian Lillard and former Trail Blazers guard Patty Mills is extremely impressive, right??
Well, that’s what Washington State men's basketball head coach Kyle Smith sees in the newest Trail Blazer and Washington State standout CJ Elleby.
Portland selected Elleby No. 46 overall in Wednesday's draft after he played two years at WSU.
The versatile wing has been looked at as a potential 3-and-D type of NBA role player.
During his freshman year with the Cougars, he shot 41.4% from three on four attempts a game. That number, however, dropped to 33.9% on 6.8 attempts per game as a sophomore, but he took on a larger offensive role and went through a few slumps in the process.
As Smith discussed how Elleby would fit with the Portland Trail Blazers, there were two guys that came to mind when comparing Elleby’s demeanor and determination.
Smith, who was named the 19th head coach of the Washington State Men’s Basketball program last spring, was an assistant at Saint Mary’s (2001-2010) while Mills helped the Gaels earn a top 25 ranking for the first time since the 1988–89 season.
Smith continued, “when I was an assistant... when Patty was there and people asked, 'what’s Patty’s strength?' I’d say ‘he’s a believer.’ He just thinks he belongs and it’s the most important trait, I think.”
As far as Elleby’s work ethic, Smith points to similarities between his WSU wing and the Trail Blazers All-Star point guard.
“You can see how it’s played out for [Lillard] and CJ’s a monster worker like Lillard,” Smith added.
Learning from Lillard both on and off the court will be invaluable to Elleby.
With Smith’s confidence that the rookie can keep up with the 2013 Rookie of the Year that’s saying a whole lot.
Now that’s some high praise.