The Washington Bullets will announce the signing of their two first-round draft choices, Greg Ballard of Oregon and Bo Ellis of Marquette, at a news conference today, The Washington Post has learned.
Ballard, who is 6-foot-7 and weighs 215 pounds, and Ellis, 6-9 and 205, are expected to back up starting forwards Elvis Hayes and free agent Bob Danbridge, who was signed by Washington last week after playing out his option with Milwaukee. Ellis also can play center.
Both are considered excellent defensive players and rebounders who were restricted on offense in college by the control style employed by their coaches.
Ballard, the fourth player chosen in the draft and the second forward (behind UCLA's Marques Johnson), averaged 21.7 points and 9.8 rebounds his senior year. He left Oregon with segen school records, including the marks for rebounds and shooting (51 per cent). For his career, he averaged 15.9 points and 9.8 rebounds on a team that scored an average of about 60 points a game.
He also made all-conference two straight years and was considered by some West Coast observers to be as good as Johnson, college basketball's player of the year.
In two head-to-head meetings with Johnson last season, Ballard emerged as the game's top scorer. Oregon won both times, with Ballard hitting two free throws with one second left to pull out the contest at Pauley Pavilion.
The Bullets admit they seriously considered making a number of deals that would have put them in a position to draft Johnson. But both Ferry and coach Dick Motta became increasingly impressed with Ballard while researching both players and finally decided to take the Oregon star.
Ellis was the team leader and best rebounder on Marquette's national championship squad. He finished as Marquette's second-leading career as Marq He finished as Marquette's second-leading career rebounder, averaging more than nine a game.
His coach, Al McGuire, called him the "Secretariat" of college players last year, although his statistics were not impressive enough for him to make many All-America teams. The Warriors' new coach, Hank Raymonds, says that Ellis is without question the smartest player he's ever seen.
Ellis was the 17th player chosen in the draft. At one point, it was thought the Bullets might include him as part of the compensation package for Dandridge. Instead, the Bullets wound up paying the Bucks about $500,000 over three years for the veteran forward.
The Bullets, who will carry 11 players, this year have told two veteran forwards, Mike Riordan and Leonard Gray, that for the moment neither figures in the club's plans.
The signing of the two first-round choice is in marked contrast with last year's strung-out negotiations with Mitch Kupchak. At one point, it appeared Kupchak was headed for a European basketball team before he finally agreed to terms with Washington. Kupchak went on to make the NBA all-rookie team and star in the playoff series against Houston.
The Bullets also expect to sign second-round pick Phil Walker of Millersville (Pa.) State this month. But Ferry has indicated that the rest of the draft selections will be given contracts only if the survive rookie camp.