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Michigan State Basketball Season in Review: Alvin Ellis III

This is the seventh post of my Season in Review series where I will analyze each MSU player’s season and give each a grade based on (my) preseason expectations

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Alvin Ellis III found his way to MSU after Tubby Smith was let go at Minnesota along with MSU finding itself with an extra scholarship after Brandon Kearney transferred during the 2012-13 season. Ellis played sparingly as a freshman due to being behind Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine on the wing, but he had his moments including a 12 point, 4-4 performance against Michigan. After going 6-13 on 3-pointers as a freshman with some good defense in there, he looked to be a potential 3-and-D type wing as sophomore. However, he suffered an early season injury and  Bryn Forbes emerged as a 3 point specialist, and Ellis found himself at the end of the rotation by the season’s end.

The Comparisons

Using this player comparison tool created by MGoBlog’s Alex Cook, these are the B1G players with the highest similarity scores (dates back to 2008):


Frankly, this is not a good list. These guys are very forgettable and no one particularly stands out. Moving on.

The Good

One of Ellis’ lone bright spots on the year was the regular season finale at Indiana where he scored a career-high 16 points shooting 6-9 from the field and 2-5 from the line.  This was a very big game in determining seeding for the B1G race for MSU. If they had lost they would’ve been the 5 seed on Wisconsin’s side of the bracket rather than the 3 seed where they ending up earning résumé-building wins against both Ohio State and Maryland.

The Bad

Almost any way you look at it, Ellis had a very poor sophomore season. His shooting percentages across the board greatly declined and his true shooting percentage of 40% is bad. His turnover rate did improve from his atrocious 30.4% as a freshman to 24.0% last year but that’s still a very bad number when you consider that he didn’t have a large role offensively. His ORtg of 77.6 was the lowest on the team and although he got to the line at a good rate (FTR of 62.3% 2nd best on the team behind Javon Bess), he converted at a terrible 45.5%.


To start off, it has to be pointed out that Ellis began the season as a starter for the Navy game (with the caveat that Javon Bess was out from injury and Bryn Forbes had a broken wrist). He was injured about 3 minutes in, sat out the next 6 games, and never really recovered to find his niche in the rotation. As it stands it’s hard to project what his role on the 2015-16 Michigan State team will be. The availability of transfer Eron Harris takes away potential playing time that would come from Travis Trice graduating and it doesn’t seem as if he’d take away time from Denzel Valentine. Forbes is also likely ahead of him and while Ellis may be more well-rounded than incoming freshman Matt McQuaid, McQuaid projects to be a better shooter who provides a special skill with height at 6-5 to play the 3 position (I was going to say "size" but he’s one skinny dude). One thing to remember about Ellis is that he is the lowest ranked player on the roster in terms of recruiting rankings. However, Ellis shot over 40% from deep as a freshman (in a very, very small samples size) and was reportedly a good shooter in high school so the biggest issue with him may just be confidence. If he can at the very least become a 3-and-D type of guy over the next two years, that will add value to the MSU roster.

Grade C


Travis Trice

Branden Dawson

Denzel Valentine

Matt Costello

Bryn Forbes

Gavin Schilling