LaPhonso is currently serving as a college basketball analyst for ESPN.
Prior to joining ESPN, LaPhonso served as a color commentator for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball radio broadcasts.
LaPhonso is a former University of Notre Dame standout and National Basketball Association veteran. Named one of 25 members of Notre Dame’s All-Century Team in 2004-05 in the 100th season of Irish basketball, Ellis was one of four senior captains of the 1991-92 Notre Dame team. He scored 1,505 career points and averaged 15.5 points per game, finishing his career ranked eighth on the Irish career scoring list (now 13th, plus 22nd in career ppg). He also totaled 200 career blocked shots (at the time a Notre Dame record, now second behind Jordan Cornette’s 201) while ranking third on the career rebounding list (1,075) and eighth among career rebounding average leaders (11.1).
Ellis led the ’91-92 Irish team in scoring (17.7), rebounding (11.7, seventh in the nation), field goal percentage (.631, ninth in the nation) and blocked shots (2.6). He paced Notre Dame in blocked shots in each of his four seasons, the only player in school history to do so. He ranked third in the nation as a sophomore at 12.6 rebounds per game.
Born LaPhonso Darnell Ellis on May 5, 1970, in East St. Louis, Ill., he was an outstanding prep basketball player at East St. Louis Lincoln High School where he led the Tigers to two straight Illinois Class AA boys championships in 1987 and 1988. He was the fifth overall selection in the 1992 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets and played 11 seasons overall – six with Denver (1992-93 through 1997-98), two with Atlanta (1998-99 and 1999-2000), one with Minnesota (2000-2001) and two with Miami (2001-02 and 2002-03).
Ellis played in 624 career NBA games (359 starts), averaging 11.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 28.2 minutes per contest. He was a first-team NBA All-Rookie Team selection in 1992-93, when he scored a Nuggets’ rookie record 1,205 points (14.7 per game) and averaged a career-best 9.1 rebounds per game. His most productive season came in his fifth season in Denver in 1996-97, when he averaged a career-best 21.9 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Ellis averaged 12.6 points and 6.9 rebounds in 16 career playoff games. He also was a two-time recipient of the NBA Sportsmanship Award.
His community service activities have included: serving as spokesman for the Denver Boys and Girls Club’s “Home For Good” fundraising effort; being the spokesman for the Atlanta Hawks Fast Break For Reading program; appearing in the filming of a TV 411 segment called “SportsSmarts,” in which viewers learn quick and easy math tips from professional athletes; and serving as Denver’s spokesman for the Easter Seals Shootout. Ellis was Notre Dame’s 1994 recipient of the Harvey Foster Award, which recognizes alums (among athletes or those involved in athletic endeavors) who have distinguished themselves through civic or University activities.
A 1992 Notre Dame graduate with a degree in accounting, Ellis and his wife Jennifer (a South Bend native) are parents of three children – Elexis, PJ, and Walter.