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Courtesy: Athletics Communications

Ellis Continues Family Tradition at Iowa State

Release: 06/20/2011
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AMES, Iowa - Cardinal and Gold were part of Iowa State women's basketball player Fallon Ellis' life before she even knew it. On a recruiting visit her freshman year of high school, Ellis was informed that her grandfather, Tom Watkins, was part of the 1959 Cyclone football "Dirty Thirty" team.

"They showed me the Hall of Fame and told me my grandpa was in it and that my uncle went here too," Ellis said. "Ever since then I was interested in Iowa State."

After learning her Cyclone family history, Ellis closely followed Iowa State and frequently read about the program. Ellis was the first of the 2011-12 basketball class to commit to the Cyclones; the team she felt wanted her most.

"Iowa State recruited me pretty hard for four years and I knew I wanted to go somewhere that really wanted me," Ellis said.

Ellis attended Westbury Christian High School, a private school in Missouri City, Texas known for its successful athletic teams. As a part of the nationally-ranked Wildcats, Ellis became a two-time 4A State Champion and received the Wildcat Award for the Best Female Athlete her senior year. In her final season with Westbury, the Wildcats were ranked No. 3 nationally in preseason, and finished No. 8 while losing just one game that season.

George Washington Jr., head coach of the DFW Elite Washington team, coached Ellis for four years on his travel team, and two years at Westbury. The DFW Elite Washington team is made up of elite high school players in the Houston area. During the summer after Ellis' junior year, the Nike-sponsored team was ranked among the top 15 in the country. That summer, Ellis and the Elite finished in the final four of every major tournament they attended, including the Summer Showcase in Chicago, as well as Basketball on the Bayou in New Orleans.

"Fallon was probably the most dependable player I've ever coached," Washington Jr. said. "She can shoot, she can score, she can defend and she can rebound. But most players who are really good at the big stuff are really bad at the small stuff. But Fallon was great at the little things. She always boxed out and she never turned the ball over."

Along with the DFW Elite's success in 2010, Fallon made an impact at Westbury during her junior season. Washington Jr. shared a memory of a game against 5A opponent St. Agnes Academy in which Ellis carried the Wildcats to victory. Westbury was lacking in the height category that season, so the 5-foot-11-inch Ellis matched up with St. Agnes Academy's 6-foot-5-inch center the entire game. Ellis didn't let the height affect her and went on to score 35 points and grab 16 rebounds against the Tigers.

"Leadership wise Fallon was very solid in her approach to the game," Washington Jr. said. "Her temperament never changed. She was our rock."

Ellis arrived in Ames on June 5, and so far what she loves most about her new educational environment are the friendly faces and the convenience of hopping on CyRide anytime. In her new basketball environment, Ellis looks forward to improving her conditioning, ball handling and shooting.

"What I like most about this program is the support from the team and the coaches," Ellis said. "I know the coaches are going to be yelling and stuff like that, but I know it's because they see something in me."
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