For the very first time, a former Buccaneer from Southwest Florida will play in the NBA. Keon Ellis, who donned the purple and aqua from 2018-2020, made the Sacramento Kings opening night roster.
“You could see the talent the first time he walked on campus,” FSW head coach Eric Murphy said.
This talent was evident throughout Ellis’ two seasons at FSW. He earned second-team NJCAA All-American honors in his sophomore year. The guard then received several offers from Division I.
“I went to JUCO and showed what I could really do,” Ellis said. “I think it opened my eyes to being able to come up with big deals and land me in Alabama.”
Ellis continued to improve and turn heads in his two seasons at Tuscaloosa. In his senior year, he was named to the SEC All-Defensive Team.
Ellis was expected to be drafted in the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft, but he never heard his name called. Thus, the former Buc signed a two-way contract with the Kings as an undrafted rookie free agent. The contract means Ellis will play in both the NBA and the G League.
It will bounce between the different levels depending on the needs of the Kings. For opening night Wednesday, Ellis will be on the NBA roster.
“I wouldn’t say I expected it,” Ellis said. “It’s always been a dream. Every kid wants to play in the NBA. I’ve told myself since I was in college that I want to.
Ellis and the Kings open their season Wednesday night against the Portland Trailblazers. Many would think it would be a nerve-wracking night, but for Keon, it’s just another game.
“I approach every game the same,” Ellis said. “I don’t think I will have different feelings towards him.”
While it’s not very special for Ellis, it’s for Southwest Florida. Wednesday marks the first time a Buc alum will dress for an NBA game.
“It means a lot,” Murphy said. “It gives us that credibility that we are capable of developing guys. It’s a way to get into the NBA.
From Southwest Florida to the NBA, Keon Ellis is writing our region’s history.