Four days after he was drafted in the second round by the Portland Trail Blazers, Washington State forward CJ Elleby received more affirmation his decision to leave school early was the correct one.
On Sunday, the Trail Blazers officially signed Elleby to a two-year minimum contract that’s valued at $2,416,291. According to The Athletic, Elleby will receive $898,310 in this first year of the deal and $1,517,981 in the second year.
According to a team press release, Elleby, who wore No. 2 during his two seasons at WSU, will switch to No. 16 in the NBA.
Despite many NBA mock drafts indicating Elleby wouldn’t be selected during Wednesday’s virtual event, the Trail Blazers picked the Seattle native with the 46th overall pick and one round after choosing one of his college rivals, Isaiah Stewart of Washington.
In a Zoom call with reporters on Thursday, Elleby expressed his excitement for the opportunity to begin his professional career in the Pacific Northwest, and just three hours south of where he grew up in Seattle.
“I’m super excited. I think my family loves it,” Elleby said. “Obviously I love it, I don’t have to be too far away from them and they can come visit me very easily. It’s great to still be in the Pacific Northwest because this is where I’ve grown up.
“It’s just a blessing.”
Elleby was the third-fastest WSU player in school history to score 1,000 career points and averaged 16.6 points (41.3% FG, 36.7% 3-PT, 74.9% FT), 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 32.1 minutes in 64 games with the Cougars. He became the first Cougar to be drafted since Klay Thompson in 2011.
Despite growing up in Seattle, where the hometown Supersonics maintained a strong rivalry with the Blazers, Elleby said he watched Portland largely because of Brandon Roy, also a Seattle native who was a star at Garfield High School and coached against Elleby in the Metro League.
“Growing up and hearing stories about him and seeing this legacy that he left behind and that he’s continuing to live, it was just inspiring,” Elleby said. “… I watched his highlights and I’m going to watch them actually after we get off this call.”
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