ASHEVILLE – Wakefield Ellison is walking around on a sprained ankle at the moment.
And he broke a hand just before the Fourth of July.
Living out his dream as a professional basketball player has been a painful, but fulfilling pursuit for the 2009 Asheville High graduate.
Ellison, 25, and the Cedar Valley (Iowa) CourtKings won the inaugural Midwest Basketball League championship Sunday in Minneapolis. Ellison had been averaging 11.3 points per game for Cedar Valley, but turned an ankle in the championship game. His team still went on to beat the Minnesota Rangers on their home court, 108-98.
“I thought I had a pretty good season besides (the injuries),” Ellison said.
“I haven’t gotten to the point where I want to be. But I had taken some time off from basketball, and it was good to get back into it and play at a high level again. Now I’m just weighing my options.”
Ellison was a 6-foot-6 shooting guard/small forward for Cedar Valley (13-4). He stayed with a host family in Iowa and returned to Asheville on Monday.
The next step, according to Ellison, is pursuing an international pro contract. And the former Cougars standout noted strongly that he hasn’t given up on the ultimate goal for every basketball player – a roster spot in the NBA.
As a high school senior, Ellison was named the Mountain Athletic Conference Player of the Year as a result of averaging 25.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game for the Cougars. He signed out of high school with East Carolina and then transferred to Winston-Salem State. Ellison graduated from the latter school with a degree in interdisciplinary studies.
Once his time in athletics is done, Ellison said he wants to open up a chain of convenience stores.
Take Christ School out of the equation and there are not a lot of former WNC high school basketball players active in the pros.
Ellison and 2005 Owen graduate David Weaver — who reported this week to Japan’s Shiga Lakestars — are believed to be the only Buncombe players playing at the post-collegiate level.