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Hoops star shifts gears, decommits from Duke

On a chilly Friday night in November, Rejean Ellis sat at a table in Mission Bay High School’s gymnasium, in front of hundreds of family, friends and fans in the stands and a phalanx of cameras.

Ellis, known best by his nickname “Boogie,” selected a Duke University baseball cap from the table and placed it on his head, announcing to the world that he would play college basketball at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities.

Rejean “Boogie” Ellis

He became the first San Diego prep basketball player to commit to Coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils since San Pasqual High’s Erik Meek in 1991.

But by May 2, Ellis had a change of heart.

The 6-2 high-scoring guard confirmed that he had asked for, and received, a release from his national letter of intent (LOI) from Duke and would be looking to commit to another school.

News of Ellis’ decision sent shock waves through college basketball circles, as reaction to the news ran the gamut from surprise, disappointment and approval.

Ellis said he decided to forgo his commitment after Duke announced that current freshman guard Tre Jones would return for his sophomore season and the Blue Devils signed another Southern California guard prospect, Sierra Canyon High senior Cassius Stanley.

Ellis said he wanted to find a school where he would play heavy minutes at the point guard, which grew unlikely with the changes to Duke’s roster.

“To be successful I have to play the 1,” Ellis said, referring to the point guard position. “Everyone in the country knows I can score the ball.”

Ellis, who played travel basketball with the Oakland Soldiers, signed to Duke during the early signing period in November. He chose the Blue Devils over the University of Southern California, San Diego State, Memphis and the University of North Carolina.

He has had a storied high school career, leading the Buccaneers to the 2018 CIF Open Division championship as a junior, the same season he was named San Diego Section Player of the Year.

As a senior, he broke his high school’s all-time scoring record and was named to the All-Section First Team.

A number of schools have reached out to Ellis since Thursday, including UCLA, Arizona and Memphis, which many consider to be Ellis’ likeliest destination.

But Ellis said that he’s not close to making a decision.

“I haven’t made a list yet,” Ellis said. “I’m still figuring things out.”

Many San Diego State fans have taken to social media to implore Ellis to “stay home” and play for the Aztecs. But Aztec fans aren’t likely to see this happen after the program accepted commitments from two experienced guards this spring: former Santa Clara University point guard Ke’Jhan Feagin and Trey Pulliam of Navarro Junior College.