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Wayne Ellington visits the Bulls for a pre-draft workout

As a junior, Wayne Ellington helped lead the Tar Heels to the National Championship, where they defeated Michigan State. He earned All-Tournament Team honors and was named NCAA Basketball Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

Ellington hopes to carry over collegiate success

Wayne Ellington "It’s a great situation here—great front office, great coaching staff and a great group of young players," said Ellington following his workout with the Bulls. "They’re definitely on the rise. Derrick’s a special talent. Not too many rookies can do what he did last season." (Adam Fluck/Chicago Bulls)

Also: Chuck Swirsky goes one-on-one with Ellington

North Carolina shooting guard Wayne Ellington was among four players at the Berto Center on Monday as the Bulls continued with pre-draft workouts in preparation for the NBA Draft on June 25.

Considered to be one of the best pure shooters in the 2009 draft class, Ellington (6-5/210) comes off a remarkable junior season in Chapel Hill that ended with the Tar Heels as national champions. Ellington set a Final Four record for highest three-point percentage, connecting on 8-of-10 from behind the arc, while capturing Most Outstanding Player honors with averages of 19.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in the two games. He is projected to be a mid to late first round pick.

Bulls.com: How did you feel your workout went?

Wayne Ellington: I thought it went really well. It was very competitive and intense, on and off the court. They let the four of us play and we all got a little winded. I felt it was a good workout, especially for me personally.

Wayne Ellington "It was March, and I turned it up and was able to help my team a lot," said Ellington of North Carolina's run. "I made some shots down the stretch and wound up as the MVP."
(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Bulls.com: Talk about your competition in the workout—Wake Forest’s James Johnson, Marquette’s Jerel McNeal and Rhode Island’s Jimmy Baron.

Ellington: It was a little different having three guards and then a bigger guy. I’m usually matched up against ones and twos, but here I was matched up with James, who has a bigger body. It made it all the more competitive. I had to make sure I was in front of him on defense and he knocked me over a few times. But it was fun.

Bulls.com: Is there anything you’re trying to focus on during these workouts to showcase your strengths?

Ellington: Not too much. I just be myself and play hard, go at it defensively, and of course, knock down my shots.

Bulls.com: Talk about capping your career at North Carolina with a national title and being named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

Ellington: It was a lot of fun, and an experience that you can’t really explain. We went to the Final Four twice and won a national championship. I’m definitely looking forward to trying to bring some of that success to the next level. In the tournament, I just got into the zone. It was March, and I turned it up and was able to help my team a lot. I made some shots down the stretch and wound up as the MVP.

Bulls.com: How did three seasons at UNC playing for Roy Williams help prepare you for the transition to the NBA?

Ellington: Coach Williams was great. He always gave us so much freedom and he allowed us to play a pro style. He let us get up and down the floor and play like men.

Bulls.com: You played with a load of talent at UNC, including future pros in Ty Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough and Ed Davis. What were some of those practices like?

Ellington: They were competitive. They were a lot of fun with all that talent on the floor. It was a group of guys capable of making big time plays, and I think that will help us make an easier transition to the NBA game.

Bulls.com: Have you modeled your game after any NBA player in particular? Which players do you watch?

Ellington: I like to watch a lot of guys—Rip Hamilton, Ray Allen, and Kobe of course. But I think my game is the most similar to Allan Houston.

Bulls.com: How do you expect your game to translate on the pro level?

Ellington: I think I’ll do well. I’ve gotten a lot better at creating my shot off the bounce and opening things up for my teammates and spreading the floor offensively. I also think I’ve gotten better defensively. Hopefully with my knowledge of the game I’ll be able to help out whatever organization I end up with.

Bulls.com: Your good friend Gerald Henderson was in to workout for the Bulls last week. Have you two stayed in touch as the draft approaches?

Ellington: We talk every day, and we just encourage each other. We’re both excited about the whole process and we can’t wait until draft night on the 25th.

Bulls.com: Henderson said last week that your friendship didn’t affect the Duke-North Carolina rivalry at all… do you agree?

Ellington [laughing]: Nope, it didn’t affect it at all… we were 5-1 against Duke so I didn’t mind it at all.

Bulls.com: Mock drafts have you going in the mid to late first round. Do you think you could be a fit for the Bulls at either 16 or 26? Are you getting an idea of where you might end up as you go through this process?

Ellington: I think I’d be great here. With Derrick Rose at the point guard position, it would be a lot of fun to fill in at the two. I know there is some uncertainty here where they don’t know who will be back next season, but either way it would be a great opportunity to come here. You get a little bit of an idea of where you might be picked as you go though all these workouts, but you never know. You get a feel for what teams really like you and who is very interested. Then you let your agent do the rest.

Bulls.com:What do you know about the current Bulls team and how would you fit in?

Ellington: It’s a great situation here—great front office, great coaching staff and a great group of young players. They’re definitely on the rise. Derrick’s a special talent. Not too many rookies can do what he did last season. Add in guys like Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah, those are talented guys that would be a lot of fun to play with. They made a nice run in the playoffs and will only get better.

Bulls Director of College Scouting Matt Lloyd on Wayne Ellington:

“Wayne Ellington was one of the premier shooters in college basketball last season and in this draft. He proved that in his workout with us. He measures out at 6-foot-5, which indicates really good positional size for a two-guard in the NBA. He had a spectacular career in high school and at North Carolina, culminating with a national championship as a junior. The role that he could play for the Bulls is spacing the floor to give us another shooter for Derrick Rose. He’s shown that he was a winner at the collegiate level, and he had a very good workout here in Chicago.”