When you’re born into Wildcats royalty, some things are a given.
“Yeah, I hated the Sydney Kings when I was growing up. Absolutely hated them. Actually I hated anyone who wasn’t the ‘Cats. I mean, the Ellis name is so big in Perth. My Grandad even helped set the club up. It’s just how it is.”
And they were the cards that had to be laid on the table early last year when Kings coach Shane Heal made his initial approach to Cody Ellis.
He was in his final year of University studies at St Louis when Heal came calling.
“When I spoke to Shane about joining the Kings he was awesome. Yeah, there was interest from the Wildcats but in the end Sydney was the most supportive of me completing my studies,” Cody said.
“I still had a year to go and I was pretty adamant I wanted to finish that. I guess I was looking well beyond basketball and Sydney understood that. That’s one thing Mum and Dad have always said to me – you never know how long basketball will last.”
And so began the end of the Ellis dynasty in the west. His signature secured in July, Cody waited for the US academic year to finish before heading home to begin his NBL journey.
“It was so hard to sit back and watching from afar. I was tuning in to games online and keeping an eye on how the team was going but that gets frustrating. Even sitting on the bench just watching my College team play was hard. There was nothing I could do. But it’s all been worth it in the end.”
He may have even converted a few family members along the way.
“When the Kings went to Perth earlier in the season my Mum and my brothers went along and they were cheering for the Kings so yeah they’re on board,” he said.
His father Mike Ellis may be tougher to crack. He’s the Wildcats’ first Championship winning captain and the Perth based expert commentator for NBL.tv.
“It’s tough being an Ellis in basketball in Perth. In some ways I have had to live up to my Dad and my uncles and even my Grandad before them,” he said.
“So in a lot of ways coming to Sydney took a lot of pressure off me. The name is so big in Perth so it gave me a fresh start away from all of that.”
“Both of my parents were so supportive of me moving to Sydney. Dad has been great. We talk basketball a lot and he really understands what it means to play professionally.”
“He obviously doesn’t tell me what to do but he is such a good reader of a game. A lot of the time we’re not even talking about my game specifically. I think it’s great to get a different perspective and have an outsiders view of how you’re going.”
Mike’s own career ended when Cody was two years of age. But he was back in the fold a decade later as head coach of the Wildcats.
“Yeah how about that. He was coaching James Harvey. And now he’s my teammate at the Kings,” Cody said.
“Harves was always one of my favourite players and he’s been a big help to me here in Sydney. I sort of gravitated towards him at first when I came to the club because I knew him. But the whole team at the Kings is so close. It’s awesome.”
Now there’s a new Ellis in town too. Chase. Cody’s baby son with his fiancé Lauren.
“Parenthood has certainly made me grow up quickly that’s for sure,” he said.
“In College, I wouldn’t say I was immature, but I didn’t need to look after anyone else. Now I’ve got my fiancé and the little guy here and I’m supporting all of us. I love it. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
“We’ve had a blast since we arrived in Sydney. We’ve tried to get out and sightsee as much as we can. We spend a lot of time at the beach. That’s natural for me. Growing up in Perth I lived two minutes from the beach so to go to College in the States and not be anywhere near the water I missed it a lot.”
There could be another trip to Perth on the horizon with a potential first-round match-up against the Wildcats in the playoffs.
“Yeah 13-thousand fans all screaming at me. Haha. I’m not sure what to expect when I step out onto the court.”
“Dad might have to get one of those split shirts for the night. Half Wildcats red. Half Sydney purple.”
As for Chase. He’s a King. A fourth generation NBL fan. Bloodlines don’t disappear. But maybe there’s a new Ellis legacy already underway.