Pitt guard Malik Ellison revealed in an Instagram post on Tuesday that he will remain with the Panthers after previously requesting his release from the program in March. His decision guarantees the young team leadership in the form of an upperclassman with two years of Division I experience and represents another early victory for first-year head coach Jeff Capel.
“I am excited about the future of Pitt basketball,” Ellison said. “Coach Capel has been impressive in the short time I have known him, and I look forward to playing for him. I believe in his vision for the program and trust that he and his staff will help me reach my full potential on the court. I am ready to get back to work with my teammates and the coaching staff.”
In addition to leadership and experience, Ellison is expected to provide the Panthers with an infusion of talent, as former Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings frequently singled him out for his impressive performances in team practices last season. He should also be able to slot in as a starter immediately, which should benefit Pitt’s otherwise inexperienced backcourt.
Before his transfer to Pitt in 2017, Ellison spent two years playing at St. John’s, where he made 35 starts and averaged 7.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 23.3 minutes per game. However, it seemed the Panthers might lose out on the former Red Storm guard, as he remained undecided regarding a potential transfer out of Pitt as recently as two weeks ago.
Ellison was one of nine Pitt players to request their release from the program shortly after Stallings was fired. He ultimately spent just under two months weighing his options before coming to a decision on Tuesday. Considering Ellison would have likely had to sit out his second year in a row to transfer, Pitt was his most expedient option in terms of playing time.
With Ellison accounted for, Pitt’s only remaining holdout from the nine players who requested their release is Kene Chukwuka. According to Craig Meyer of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Chukwuka is still undecided, although he’s believed to be leaning toward returning.