The Maryland women's basketball team recently landed one of the most inexperienced players in the country. That's not a bad thing, though — it's her potential and her pedigree that caught their eyes.
Aja Ellison, the daughter of former NBA player Pervis Ellison and former Maryland sprinter Timi Crawford, committed to the Terps on Sunday. Ellison has only been playing organized basketball since 2010, but has shown huge improvement and plenty of collegiate potential.
"She obviously has the genes — athleticism never was an issue," said Ron Kessler, Ellison's basketball coach at Life Center Academy in Burlington, N.J. "We just worked on her skill set, fine tuning her ability with a basketball on the court. Her athleticism far exceeds her skill set. We have just worked and worked and worked with her and really seen her skill set catch up with her athleticism."
The 6-foot-3 Ellison transferred to Life Center as a junior for the 2012-13 season when Pervis was named coach of the boys' team. She previously played at Shipley in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
Because of her size, Ellison played center for Shipley, but Kessler moved her to the wing upon her transfer, saying it was a "disservice" to her because she'll play the wing in college.
"We introduced her to a lot of ball handling, brought her away from the basket, and started developing her mid-range jump shot and attacking the basket off the dribble," Kessler said. "Her ball-handling, her face-up game at 15-to-18 feet are where we want to see her become more of a threat. We know she's going to be so athletic, we know she's going to go to the boards, she's going to lead our team in rebounding — that's no secret."
Ellison averaged a double-double (10 points, 12 rebounds) this season and helped Life Center win the National Association of Christian Athletes Division I national title. She picked Maryland over Notre Dame, Louisville -- her father's alma mater -- and Stanford. Ellison joins North Carolina guard Kiara Leslie and Ohio guard Kristen Confroy in Maryland's 2014 recruiting class.