LeRoy Ellis dies at age 72

LeRoy Ellis, who starred at St. John's before playing 14 seasons in the NBA, died Saturday in Portland, Ore., after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 72.

The 6-foot-10 Ellis ranks fifth all time at St. John's with 927 career rebounds and 25th all time with 1,289 career points. He still holds program records for rebounds in one game with 30 against NYU on Dec. 30, 1961, and single-season rebounding average with 16.5.

"For a big guy, he was awfully quick. You can never catch him," former St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca said in a statement released by the school. "He spent 14 years in the NBA, and you could not catch him, longitudinally. He had a soft touch and was a good rebounder. He was a quiet guy, you never knew still he was around. But when he was on the court, you always knew."

Ellis, a Brooklyn native, was taken by the Los Angeles Lakers with the sixth overall pick in the 1962 NBA draft. He went on to play 14 seasons in the league, finishing with career averages of 9.7 points and 8.3 rebounds.

Ellis won an NBA title in 1972 with the Lakers in his second stint with the team. He also played for the Baltimore Bullets, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Trail Blazers selected Ellis in the expansion draft in 1970, and he led the team in rebounding (12.3 per game) and was third in scoring (15.3 points per game) in the franchise's first season. It was his only season in Portland.

"LeRoy Ellis was a very important member of the first Trail Blazers team and was a very high-class individual," Trail Blazers founder and president emeritus Harry Glickman. "We extend our deepest sympathy to his family."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.