Hamilton basketball legend "Boo" Ellis dies

Ellis, who led Hamilton High School’s basketball team to the state championship in 1954 and later played in the NBA, reportedly had suffered a heart attack two weeks ago and undergone by-pass surgery on Wednesday.

“He was a great man, well loved,” said Richard Holzberger, former Butler County sheriff and member of Hamilton City Council, who noted that Ellis worked for him as a security officer for 10 years. “A super guy.”

Holzberger said Ellis moved from Hamilton to Indianapolis about a year ago to live with a daughter.

Ellis scored 56 points in the 1954 state semifinals and finals for the Big Blue as coach Warren Scholler’s team finished its championship season with a 25-3 record.

Ellis, who was known as a gentle giant off the court, was a first-team all-state selection and was named MVP of the state tournament.

He achieved further stardom at Niagara University, where as a senior he led the nation with 21 rebounds per game and broke the school’s career records in scoring (1,656 points) and rebounds (1,533). Ellis helped lead the Purple Aces to two NIT berths.

Ellis was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers as the 16th overall pick in the 1958 NBA draft.

He played two seasons with the Lakers, averaging 5.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

Ellis also played six seasons in the Continental League and three with the Marcus Haynes Fabulous Magicians, a traveling professional team.

Ellis was elected to the Butler County Sports Hall of Fame in 1984 and was a charter member of the Hamilton City School District Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.

Contact this reporter at (513) 820-2197 or pconrad@coxohio.com.

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