The day before he left for America and changed his life and St. Louis University’s basketball season, Cody Ellis got up early and went for a run along the Indian Ocean near his family’s home in Perth, Australia. At 8 a.m., Ellis’ father, Mike, found him laying by the pool in the backyard, soaking up the Southern Hemisphere’s summer sun.
It was already warm in Perth, but 8 a.m. is not prime tanning time. His father asked him what he was doing. "Dad," Cody said, "I’m not going to see the summer for four years. I have to get the most while I can."
"Fair call," his father replied.
The arrival of the 6-foot-8 Ellis has been like a burst of warmth and sunshine in the midst of a cold winter for SLU. His arrival came at the end of a long battle to gain NCAA eligibility, and it couldn’t have been better-timed. Ellis got here in time for Atlantic 10 play, and with him in the lineup, SLU is off to a 3-1 start, with the only loss coming on a last-second shot in overtime to a team that currently sits third in the league.
Going into tonight’s game at George Washington, Ellis is averaging 12.3 points, scoring from both inside and out, and 7.8 rebounds per game. Despite concerns about his fitness as he jumps into the season at its midpoint, he’s averaging just under 30 minutes a game. He has become an essential component, even if he barely knows the offense.