Who is Pervis Ellison? A lot of people don’t know the name. Would you believe he was the number one overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft? Seriously. Ellison averaged an incredibly-mediocre 9.5 points per game for his NBA career after being a top pick.
The 1989 Draft was weak, but in retrospect, the Sacramento Kings could have made a better selection with that top pick. They missed out on Glen Rice, Sean Elliott, Tim Hardawawy and Shawn Kemp. However, Danny Ferry went with the 2nd pick. So, yeah, the 1989 NBA Draft’s top two picks were Pervis Ellison and Danny Ferry. The NBA, it’s FANNNNtastic!
Back to Pervis. Ellison was a darn good college basketball player at Louisville. He was a freshman on the Louisville team that won the National Title in 1986 and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. This was all as a freshman. In many ways it was all downhill from there. As a four-year starter at Louisville, Never Nervous Pervis averaged 15-8. While in college he played 139 games, one of the top totals in NCAA history.
When he arrived in the NBA the problems began to pile up. During his rookie season with the Kings, Ellison suffered through injuries and questionable play. During his rookie season, Mr. Number One average a modest 8-6 in just 34 games. Apparently the Kings knew what they had and traded Ellison to the Bullets once the season was done. In return they received two white stiffs (Bob Hansen and Eric Leckner, 2 second round picks (amounting to nothing), and the 23rd pick of the first round (Anthony Bonner). So, they essentially got nothing. Way to go Pervis.
The following season, Ellison showed some heart. He averaged 11 a game, primarily off the bench. The next season, his third, Pervis won the Most Improved Player award as he poured in 20-11 a game for the 25-57 Bullets. The following year, Ellison again struggled with injuries while averaging 17 a game. After that Ellison never again appeared in more that 70 games in a single season. He was released a few times in the following years and was out of the NBA by the time he was 33.
Ellison entered the league as a 6’9” 205 pound center. However, later in his career with the Celtics and the Sonics, he was clearly much bigger, grew out some dreds, and looked tired all of the time.
Ellison ended up making over $20M as a pro athlete and currently coaches various basketball teams in Southern New Jersey.