SEATTLE – CJ Elleby’s quest for 1,000 points ended on Friday night, fittingly in the city where the Washington State sophomore first learned to love the game of basketball.
Elleby needed just seven points to become the third-fastest player in school history to reach 1,000, and became the 38th to do it when he knocked down a long 3-pointer from the top of the arc late in the first half of WSU’s rivalry matchup with the University of Washington at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The forward’s 3-pointer put his team up 34-28 with approximately 3 minutes left in the half and Elleby finished with 21 points to lead the Cougars past the Huskies, 78-74.
“I’m so glad we got the win, but that means so much, individually,” Elleby said of the milestone. “But nothing I couldn’t do without the team.”
Only Steve Puidokas, who reached 1,000 points in 52 games, and Jim McKean, who did it in 57, achieved the milestone quicker than Elleby. The Seattle native and Cleveland High graduate hit the 1,000-point mark two games faster than Klay Thompson, who accomplished the feat in the final regular-season game of his sophomore season.
“I thought he played great,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said. “He’s a big-time believer in himself and his teammates. That’s how he shows his leadership, with his courage, and just felt good.”
Elleby’s career scoring average of 16.6 points per game would rank fifth in school history. If the forward can maintain his season average of 18.6 ppg, he’s on pace to finish the season with 1,083 points, presuming the Cougars play at least one game in the postseason College Basketball Invitational.
If Elleby does that, he’d climb all the way to No. 26 on WSU’s all-time scoring chart.
If he elects to stay for his junior season, he’d be on schedule to score more than 1,600 points, which would place in the school’s top five.