Last year was something of a crossroad for Alvin’s MSU career. It started with him getting hurt in the season opener, which wasn’t great luck (for him or for MSU).The problem is that Alvin appeared to let his conditioning get away from him while he was injured, and thus when he was “healthy” he still wasn’t in a position to earn anything beyond spot duty for MSU. His team desperately needed another perimeter body with Bess’ injury issues and despite numerous opportunities, Ellis couldn’t do enough to claim a regular role.
Then he bounced back late. AE had a huge game in a major win in Bloomington over IU. He did a decent if not quite spectacular job in the Tournament subsequent to that. Alvin was still in a spot where he’d have to fight from behind a bit, but he at least had re-established some positive momentum for himself…and then he was charged with alcohol related offenses in the offseason, which led to him joining Eron Harris on the sidelilnes during the Italian trip and putting his MSU future once again under a cloud.
The shame of it all is that I still believe Alvin has potential. He shot well from range in limited opportunities as a freshman and showed flashes last year. He has a good to-the-rim game, showing a nice ability to protect the ball in traffic and get to the basket. His size and decent athletic ability suggest he has a chance to be a good defender. The trouble is when you can’t stay in shape or on the right side of the law, little of that matters. Alvin’s in a tough spot. Izzo’s mentioned explicitly that he not only wasn’t happy with the incident which landed him on suspension, he hasn’t been thrilled with his response (as opposed to Harris, who has earned repeated praise from his coach for how he handled his suspension and its aftermath). Where does all of this leave Ellis? We’ll find out soon enough. I hope for his sake that whatever comes next is a situation he’s willing to take ownership of and complete in a positive way, whether that’s at MSU or anywhere else. By all accounts, he’s a pretty good kid, so this isn’t an outlaw scenario… just one where the necessary maturity level maybe hasn’t been reached.