Ellis runs the fastest and jumps the highest

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Calvin Abueva

Calvin Abueva in the 50m sprint. (PBA Images)

Fil-American cager Chris Ellis made a huge impression at Wednesday’s Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Rookie Camp at Club650 in Libis by topping two drills in the biometrics and agility test.

The six-foot-six California native, who started for NLEX in the last PBA D-League tournament, showed his all-around athleticism by topping the 50-meter sprint and the vertical leap, boosting his stock heading into this Sunday’s 2012 PBA Rookie Draft.

Ellis clocked 5.86 seconds in the sprint and leaped a phenomenal 11 feet, four inches in the vertical leap as he led 68 other aspirants in the camp where they performed a variety of physical tests under the watchful eyes of several PBA scouts and coaches.

Ellis’ fellow Fil-Am and NLEX teammate Cliff Hodge turned in equally impressive numbers, going 5.87 in the 50-meter sprint and also leaping 11 feet, four inches on his second jump to also impress the talent evaluators present. However, Ellis’ feat was more remarkable since he jumped 11 feet, three inches on his first jump, whereas Hodge leaped only 11 feet, one inch.

Another Fil-Am, former Jr. Powerade Tiger Mark Jeffries, registered leaps of 11’1" and 11’3” to also stand out. Cebu’s six-foot-ten behemoth Junmar Fajardo, the consensus top draft pick, leaped 11 feet on both tries.

Four other players ran the sprint in under six seconds. Mapua's Allan Mangahas and San Sebastian's Marvin Agacer both clocked 5.97 seconds, while DLSU’s Simon Atkins and Adamson's Jerick Canada both came in at 5.99 seconds.

Aside from the sprint and vertical leap, the candidates also performed sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups, and their wingspan and height were also measured.

Ramon Mabayo of STI topped the sit-ups drill with 350, while diminutive Emman Monfort of Ateneo led everyone in push-ups with 100. Thomas Elliot Tan of Biola University in the U.S. had the most pull-ups with 24.

Ten players were measured above six-foot-four without shoes, with Fajardo the tallest at 6'10" and Gian Chiu the second-tallest at 6'8 1/8". Fajardo also had the longest wingspan at 85 inches.

The league decided to limit this year’s camp to the biometrics and agility test and do away with the shooting drills and the traditional two-day scrimmages, since most of the players already saw action in the D-League.

The original batch of 71 applicants was reduced by two after Far Eastern University’s JR Cawaling and SSC’s Franz Delgado both withdrew their application. At the end of the camp, that number was sliced further to 63 after six applicants, unknowns hoping beyond hope to make an impression, were stricken off the final list of those who received invites to Sunday’s affair, which will be held at Robinsons Manila at 4:00PM.

The remaining 63 applicants might be reduced even further if one or more of them decides to withdraw. PBA Supervisor of Officials Ramil Cruz told Yahoo! Sports that anyone who changes his mind has up to 12 noon of Thursday to inform the PBA Commissioner’s Office.

“If an applicant does not call, then he will be included in the final list of applicants that will be sent to all the 10 teams,” Cruz said.

Other notables in what is shaping up to be a center-  and forward-heavy draft are collegiate stand-outs Aldrech Ramos (FEU/Smart Gilas), Chris Tiu (Ateneo/Smart Gilas), Ronald Pascual (SSC), Dave Marcelo (San Beda), Vic Manuel (PSBA/D-League MVP), Mark Sarangay (Mapua), Lester Alvarez (Adamson) and Yousef Taha (Mapua) and six-foot-four Fil-Ams Keith Jensen and Alex Mallari.

Another interesting candidate is six-foot-eight Chiu, the former Ateneo Blue Eaglet who played for Oberlin College in the United States. Once a lumbering, rather overweight teenage slotman, Chiu has trimmed down considerably and is noticeably more agile. However, the jury is still out on his fate in the draft, with one scout projecting him to be a late second-round or early third-round pick while a veteran coach guessing he would be tabbed in the fourth round. Both of them, however, agreed that Chiu was a long shot at being a productive PBA player.