Feature photo courtesy of Maka Ellis.
Over the past five years, Nevada has emerged as a major recruiting hub for high school basketball players. Due to the powerhouse programs of Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas and Findlay Prep in Henderson, there have been numerous highly sought after prospects coming out of the state. Chase Jeter, Derryck Thornton, Stephen Zimmerman, Allonzo Trier and Ray Smith are all Nevada recruits heading to top-tier college programs next year, but there is an up and coming star from of Nevada who is not at one of these high school powerhouses, and it is Maka Ellis out of Sierra Vista High School in Las Vegas.
Ellis is a 6-foot-4-inch combo guard from the class of 2018 who has taken advantage of his freshman year to establish himself as a key player to watch. Watching Ellis play, it’s hard to tell he is just a freshman. He led his team with 18.8 points per game on 46 percent shooting from the field. He handles the ball smoothly, finishes with ease and gets to the free throw line in a James Harden-like manner. The talented guard always looked comfortable against his opponents, however his first year in high school was definitely an adjustment.
“It was definitely different then everything else,” said Ellis. “I had to play a different role than I usually play in AAU basketball. I was a point guard so I had to distribute and score at the same time and overall be a leader.”
Ellis has continued his improvement after his season ended, too, by attending Jim Jones’ basketball camp. He says that coach Jim Jones works with the fundamentals extremely well and has made him much more confident and comfortable at being his team’s primary ball handler. The improvement Ellis has had since coming to high school has colleges taking notice. Utah State and New Mexico State have clearly been impressed with his young career as they have already offered him. San Diego State is also showing interest as Ellis said he attended their camp recently, and the assistant coaches began to recruit him and introduced him to head coach Steve Fisher. Despite the fact that colleges are recruiting Ellis more and more, he says his focus is still on high school and AAU.
“My father and I have not really gotten so much into those,” said Ellis. “We’re still focusing on finishing out high school and AAU and getting ready for the big tournaments in July.”
Although he is not thinking about college right now, Ellis has an idea of what he is looking for in his future school. He said he hopes to major in psychology and that he wants the school he chooses to be close to home, preferably near the West Coast. It makes sense that he would like to stay near home, as he said living in Las Vegas has been extremely beneficial to his recruiting process.
“When colleges come out to see guys like Chuck O’Bannon, Chase Jeter, Stephen Zimmerman, Troy Brown, and all the great players out here, it definitely helps when they can come see me at the same time,” Ellis said.
With three years left of his high school career, Ellis has the chance to become one of the next big players out of the state of Nevada.