Jason Ellis played five games with the Stampede last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Ellis spent the rest of the season and offseason trying to get that surgically repaired knee back into playing shape, but he might not have been at his most impressive when first-year coach Mike Peck held tryouts before the season.
Ellis friend and teammate, Coby Karl, told Peck to look beyond that tryout session.
I told him, Youll see. Youll understand over time what Jason can do for a team, Karl said.
It didnt take long for Peck to become a believer.
I dont know anyone who gets more out of themselves, pound for pound, than him, Peck said. He might be giving up 6 to 8 inches in the post, but let me tell you, he can guard a guy whos 6 to 8 inches taller.
Ellis will wear a knee brace throughout this season.
Im getting used to it, the 6-foot-7, 200-pound forward said. Im moving better and Im happy so far. Hopefully Ill get better as the year goes on. I still notice Im not moving as well as I used to before, but that will come with time.
Peck said he was inclined to bring Ellis back slowly. Ellis, true to form, sees no need for that.
Whatever he needs, Im good to go, Ellis said. After what happened last year, Im just happy to be back and be part of a team.
That attitude doesnt surprise Karl.
Jasons my favorite teammate Ive ever played with, Karl said. Hes the most unsung hero Ive ever been around. Jasons a warrior, but hes a great guy and a family man. I love being around him because he makes me want to be a better person.
WAITING IN THE WINGS
Dallas Lauderdale, a 6-foot-8, 255-pound power forward, has begun the season on the inactive list while he rehabs a foot injury.
Hes a very mobile big man, Peck said. Some people might say hes undersized for playing post at the pro level, but the reason hes able to be so effective is because he has a 7-foot-5 wingspan. He plays more like a 6-11 guy.
Peck is excited about adding the Ohio State product to the mix (Lauderdale could return in approximately two weeks).
That infusion is going to be huge, Peck said. Its something I feel right now our team needs, a little bit of gritty toughness.
A NEW COURT
The Stampede are trying out a new floor this season. Action Floors is trying to break into the NBA, and the Stampede are using one of the companys prototypes.
(Action Floors) will be watching it, and the NBA will be watching it, managing investor Bill Ilett said. The look of the floor is identical to the Portland Trail Blazers, with the exception of Idahos logo.