(photo by: Sam Hunter)
Former Louisville center Ellis Myles has always been about heart, hustle, and desire. That is the way he played and now he uses that same intensity on the sidelines. He was relentless as the backbone of a Final Four team with his intimidating demonstrative style and if the early results on the court are an example of things to come he will become an excellent head coach. He has begun his coaching
journey by bringing his brand of AAU basketball to the Ville.
“Well I live here in Louisville now and I played for the University of Louisville so I thought it was only natural. I played for the Compton Magic AAU program in California so I basically meshed the two together and I am the founder of the Louisville Magic AAU program here,” said Myles. “Then I went out and recruited the best players that fit what I am trying to do. This is my first group and I want to keep these eight guys together for the next three years. I want to do this for the next four to six years and by thirty three I want to be on a college bench somewhere.”
Of course it does not take long to see where Ellis got the inspiration for his coaching style. He definitely fits into the run and press mold of his former coach Rick Pitino, but he also has taken some things from the guy down I-64 as well.
“It is my style (to run and press) and I understand what these kids like to do these days. Coach Calipari has done a great job of understanding and letting the kids play at the college level. That is what these young kids want to do having the ball in their hands and showcase their one-on-one ability,” said Myles. “So that is what I try to do is let these kids have fun with the ball in their hand. We are a tremendous shooting team, we are long and athletic, and we want to get up and down the floor. Those are our main strengths.”
The combination of Myles’ tenaciousness on the sideline and superior talent on the floor has led to unprecedented success on the court that has not been seen by any AAU team from the state of Kentucky. The sensational backcourt duo of Louisville guards DeAngelo Russell (Central) and Quintin Snider (Ballard) as well as Lexington Henry Clay forwards Trey Grundy and Jordan Green have
helped lead the Magic to win three straight 15-under Championships. The last two titles, at the prestigious Adidas Invitational and the Eddie Ford Hoopfest, included an unbelievable stretch of 12 straight wins in 7 days.
“I feel that the players are going to take after the personality of the coach. So if they see their coach is aggressive on the sidelines then they will be aggressive in between the lines. So I just try to bring as much out of them that I can and if they see me drenched in sweat on the sidelines then they are going to be drenched in sweat,” said Myles. “It is all about desire and work from the kids. We are not like other AAU programs we work out two times a week and we give them a lot in those two hours and you see the results on the court. They know one another and they enjoy playing with one another.”
Yet with so many talented players on the roster including Dixie Heights star Brandon Hatton, Trinity workhorse Craig Owens, Scott County point guard Christian Cunningham, and Ohio County big man Justin Miller the unselfishness and team chemistry has been one of the reasons that the Magic have met success so quickly.
“I don’t want to take the credit, but I think the fact that I don’t let anyone get away with anything they don’t know who the best player is. Heck I don’t know who the best player is because they all come in and do everything that is asked of them,” said Myles.
The lack of a strong AAU presence in the state of Kentucky has really hindered the development of young talent over the last twenty years. That is something that Myles wants to change and he believes that with the amount of young talent things are changing.
“We had a big meeting (with the team) and I told them you have a Derek Anderson and you have a
Rajon Rondo that is a tremendous gap in between there. And I told them they could be next or it could be someone else but there is a lot of talent in this state and especially on this team so I think it could definitely be one of my guys who is next,” said Myles.
While Myles is has been focused on the business of building an AAU powerhouse he has taken time to check out the upcoming Louisville Cardinal men’s basketball team and he likes what he sees.
“I go down there and work out three to four times a week. I get to see the guys practicing and I really like the kid Chane Behanan he has a good chance to play a lot of minutes. We’re so deep this year, they remind me of our 2005 team because they are about fifteen deep,” said Myles. “So now coach has his hands full because everybody is going to get after it and if someone is not doing right then
another can step in because everybody can play. This is a great team and I expect good things.”
So of course the big question is can this team be as good as Myles’ Final Four squad of 2005?
“We had so much chemistry on that team in 2005 we were a bunch of guys who had been around
each other for such a long time. I was a fifth year senior on that team, but this year we got Swop coming off injury and we have Buck coming off injury so we will have to see how that develops,” said Myles.