June 3, 2012
QUEENS, N.Y. - St. John's legend LeRoy Ellis, who turned a standout Redman career into a 14-year NBA legacy with a world championship in 1972, passed away on Saturday, in Portland, Ore., at the age of 72 after a long battle with prostate cancer.
"For a big guy, he was awfully quick. You can never catch him," said St. John's Hall of Fame Coach Lou Carnesecca. "He spent 14 years in the NBA and you could not catch him, longitudinally. He had a soft touch and was a good rebounder. He was a quiet guy, you never knew he was around. But when he was on the court, you always knew."
Ellis ranks 25th on St. John's all-time scoring list with 1,289 career points and fifth on the school's all-time rebounding list with 927 boards. He still holds the school record for highest rebounding average in a season (16.5) and most rebounds in one game with 30 against NYU on Dec. 30, 1961.
The Brooklyn native's collegiate career spanned from the 1959-60 season through 1961-62. In his first season, Ellis averaged 10.6 points per game and was second on the team with 253 rebounds. In his second season, Ellis averaged 16.5 points a game, which was second best on the team behind Tony Jackson. In 1962, Ellis was named the recipient of the Haggerty Award, given to the most valuable collegiate basketball player in the metropolitan area. He earned that honor by leading the team with a 23.5 scoring average and 430 rebounds. Ellis was named to several All-America, all-star and all-tournament teams during his illustrious career at St. John's.
Ellis was selected by the Lakers with the sixth overall pick in the 1962 NBA Draft. A member of Portland's inaugural basketball team, Ellis was chosen by the Trail Blazers in the 1970 NBA Expansion Draft. He led Portland with 12.3 rebounds per game and ranked third on the team with a 15.9 scoring average in 1970-71, his only season with the Trail Blazers.
Ellis appeared in 1,048 NBA games over 14 seasons with the L.A. Lakers, Baltimore, Portland and Philadelphia. He posted career averages of 9.7 points and 8.3 rebounds, and was a member of the 1972 NBA Champion L.A. Lakers.