Opinion: The legend of the Boogie man

Why Boogie Ellis should win Pac-12 Player of the Year.

[A photo of Boogie Ellis cheering on the court at Galen Center.]

USC men’s basketball over the last four games has vaulted into a position just on the cusp of the NCAA tournament. Much of that success is due to the whole team playing together and better basketball in general, however the main reason the Trojans have been on a tear the past two weeks has been because of senior guard Boogie Ellis.

Ellis is having a career year averaging 16.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game and has already been named one of the four finalists for Pac-12 Player of the Year.

Beyond having the best year of his career so far statistically, why should Ellis win Player of the Year?

He’s best when the lights are brightest

In big games this year, Ellis has been at the top of his game. In November’s Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, Ellis averaged 21 points against some of the nations best, including a 27-point game versus BYU and a 21-point game on No. 6 Tennessee.

Back in December when the Trojans took on then-ranked Auburn, Ellis scored an extremely efficient 28 points on 60% shooting.

And of course most recently, at home against UCLA, Ellis cashed in a career-high 31 points, 27 of which came in the second half of a comeback win against the Bruins.

Ellis has shown time and time again that when the Trojans need him, he will step up, which is what makes him such a dangerous player. Against ranked teams this season, Ellis is averaging a whopping 20.2 points.

Just know, when the going gets tough, Ellis will be the man the Trojans call on to make the big plays.

He is more than just a scorer

Despite everything I just said about how important he is on his scoring ability alone, he is a lot more than that. On Saturday, when the Trojans faced off against Washington in the Galen Center, Ellis just couldn’t get going on the scoring side. However, something that couldn’t be measured by any stats was the leadership he displayed on the court.

Though the shots weren’t falling, Ellis’ leadership was present as always as he tried to put guys in the right position during a play. He made sure everyone stayed level-headed in a game which had many ticky tacky fouls called by the refs.

Many star players often get frustrated with themselves or their team when their shots aren’t going in – not Boogie. Ellis kept his head high and did what was best for the team. The veteran helped get players like sophomore forward Kobe Johnson and freshman guard Tre White in positions to score and make plays, which worked beautifully as the pair dropped 21 and 22 to go along with phenomenal shooting percentages.

Ellis affects the game so much more beyond the stat sheet. He is a fantastic teammate and leader who deserves more recognition for his leadership skills.

We are about halfway through Pac-12 regular season play, and Ellis will have some stiff competition to win the award. If I were him, I would be circling March 2 on my calendar to get revenge against No. 4 Arizona at home. Not only is it a chance to show out on a national level and redeem the Trojans of their loss in Tucson, but it is also a chance to outplay his biggest competition for Pac-12 player of the year. Junior forward Azuolas Tubelis is averaging a monstrous 20.8 points and 9.5rebounds per game.

I firmly believe that the Pac-12 player of the year award will go to the best player on the best team, so the Trojans have a bit of ground to make up. Even still, I 100% believe that it is possible for USC to win the Pac-12 regular season and tournament. If that happens, there is no question that Boogie Ellis should be the Pac-12 Player of the Year.

With all that being said, to the Pac-12 coaches and media, I strongly encourage you to vote Boogie Ellis for the Pac-12 men’s basketball Player of the Year.