MISHAWAKA – Former Notre Dame star and NBA veteran LaPhonso Ellis has been named a special assistant on the staff of first-year Bethel College men's basketball coach Ryne Lightfoot.
Lightfoot took the reins from his father, Mike, earlier this year. Bethel won 31 games last season, the Crossroads League regular-season title and the CL tourney championship. The Pilots reached the NAIA Division II quarterfinals for the ninth time in program history.
In addition to Ellis, Lightfoot announced that Andrew Wingreen will join the program after five seasons as an assistant at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Ryan Ehm, who was an assistant for the Pilots' women's program last season, will serve as a graduate assistant, while current assistant Alex Daniel will return for his fifth season.
"This is a group that is young, but passionate about the game, passionate about relationships and passionate about diving into the the lives of our student-athletes,'' Lightfoot said. "They are not only a great fit to our program, but to our school as a whole.''
Since his retirement from the NBA, Ellis, 47, has spent the last nine years as a college basketball analyst for ESPN, after first serving as a color commentator on Notre Dame men's basketball games. Ellis scored 1,505 points for the Fighting Irish, while also grabbing 1,075 rebounds – third in program history. He blocked a then-school record 200 shots in his four-year career.
Ellis was the fifth overall selection in the 1992 NBA draft, selected by the Denver Nuggets, going to Denver. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie team in his first season and the next year helped Denver become the first No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed (Seattle). He played 11 seasons in the NBA, averaging 11.9 points and 6.5 rebounds.
"LaPhonso brings a wealth of knowledge to our staff,'' Lightfoot said. "His experience with ESPN allows him to not only see a lot of college basketball, but also be allowed exclusive access to practices as well. His experience as both a player an an analyst is something I look forward to having as part of the program.''
Prior to his time at Bob Jones, Wingreen has coached at Kansas, Wisconsin, Duke, Marquette and Furman. At Bob Jones, his responsibilities included recruiting coordinator, basketball camp director, scouting, player development, leadership development and travel coordinator.