Wayne Ellington: "Draft night was draining emotionally"

Wayne Ellington: "Draft night was draining emotionally"


Wayne Ellington: "Draft night was draining emotionally"

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Wayne Ellington - Icon Sports MediaThe obvious first question is what are your feelings about being drafted by a Minnesota Timberwolves team that is certainly in need for a shooting guard?

Wayne Ellington: I felt pretty happy. I had two great workouts there. I knew they were interested and there is the opportunity to get on the court. That is why it really interested me. It’s a great situation and opportunity.

How hard was draft night, watching all the other draft picks selected until you were taken at No. 28.

WE: It was very tough, I was drained emotionally. It was crazy. I can’t even describe it. My palms were sweating.

Being a consistent perimeter shooter is a skill that isn’t in abundance in the NBA. Do you think that is a major selling point for you, the ability to hit from the outside?

WE: I think it is a pretty big part. Definitely in Minnesota. They need a shooter,  somebody who can stretch the floor and I can do that. I hope I will be able to create space for guys like Kevin Love and Al Jefferson inside.

What part of your game do you want to continue improving as you enter your rookie season?

WE: I want to get better all around. Put the ball on the floor, get to the basket, improve defensively. There is so much to work on.

Are you looking to come in and be a starter for the Timberwolves?

WE: That is definitely what I am looking for. I feel it’s a great opportunity.

What’s up with the Wolves choosing point guards Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn with the fifth and sixth picks in the draft?

WE: They are two great point guards and with Ricky’s situation it’s kind of difficult. We don’t know what will happen. We are definitely happy to have both of them. We have Jonny for sure and possibly Ricky.

What are your goals as a rookie?

WE: My next goal is to possibly be one of the best rookies and be on the All-Rookie Team and play in the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge.

You get asked this all the time, but what was it like to win the NCAA championship at North Carolina?

WE: It was unbelievable. We worked so hard and there was a lot of pressure on us. When we finally won it, you just can’t explain the feeling. We were all emotional and it was a great experience.

Leading up to the NCAA Tournament you had five games where you scored 19 or more points. Then in six NCAA Tournament games, you scored 19 or more points in five games. Did the urgency of the situation make you pick up your game?

WE: I said I had to turn it up a notch, and become more aggressive. I thought if I did that I could definitely help my team.

You averaged 15.8 points as a junior and 14.4 for your career. Would those numbers have been higher had you played on a different team?

WE: No question they would have been in almost any other situation But there was so much talent and a lot of us sacrificed and did what we had to win a championship.

Who wins in one-on-one, you or your former Episcopal Academy High School teammate Gerald Henderson?

WE: (Laughs). It goes back and forth, man. He knows my game and I know his game and it gets competitive.

Do people find it odd that a North Carolina player and a Duke Blue Devil are the best of friends?

WE: A little bit, man, but it’s all good.

What was practice like at North Carolina?

WE: Very competitive. Practices were tough. We like to get up and down and everybody really gets after each other. It’s why we had the best program in the country. We had a lot of talent and everybody worked hard.

You put your name in the draft after your sophomore season but then decided to return to North Carolina. I would guess that you were extremely happy with that decision.

WE: No question. It was something that was huge, making that decision and coming back, working harder getting better in all areas of my game and winning.

You were named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Final Four. That would seem to be something that made the championship extra special.

WE: Yes it did. It was definitely something that felt great. I worked so hard and wanted to turn it up some.

You are from the Philadelphia area so I would guess you aren’t the most popular person with the locals after scoring 20 points in your 83-69 win over Villanova in the NCAA semifinal.

WE: (Laughing) Especially when I’m home in Philly, the Villanova fans don’t like me because we beat them.

You grew up playing a lot of basketball in Philadelphia. There is a reputation that Philadelphia players, especially the guards have for their toughness. What was it like playing in Philadelphia?

WE: It was a great experience. I don’t know what it is about Philly guards, but they are tougher. Playing there in high school really helped my game a lot.

Have you ever met another Philadelphia area guard named Kobe Bryant who played at Lower Merion High, which wasn’t far from your high school?

WE: I met him and from what I have experienced, he is a great guy. I can’t wait to match up with him. It will be a big-time challenge but I would look forward to it especially since he’s been my favorite player.

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