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Greg Elliott: A Story of Adversity, Leadership, and Opportunity



From the very moment Detroit native Greg Elliott stepped on Marquette’s campus, he had already won over the support of everyone inside and around the Marquette program.

Prior to his freshman season, he was competing in a Milwaukee summer league which is allowed by the NCAA. The league is filled with players from Marquette, UW-Milwaukee, and the occasional overseas professionals looking for a place to compete. beat writer John Dodds, who has covered the program since 1978, was in attendance to check out the newest Golden Eagle.

“Most of these guys when they play there, they are selfish,” Dodds told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “But Greg Elliott, he was different. It was the first time I ever saw him play, and he shares the ball, goes into a layup, stops, waits for the trailer, gives a bounce pass back, and pretty soon, everybody is hugging him, and he’s the man. Those teams are winning and doing really well because of Greg Elliott. He’s an unselfish guy. It’s all about winning with Greg Elliott.”

Elliott was initially a member of the class of 2017, hooping for East Detroit High School and playing his way into a three-star national ranking. The 6-foot-3, 160-pound point guard had earned offers from Michigan State, Marquette, Providence, Rice, VCU, and more.

“He was recruited by Steve Wojciechowski out of Detroit,” Dodds continued. “At the end, Tom Izzo was interested, and Greg had 42 points in a game in front of Wojo and Izzo.”

Elliott eventually committed to the Golden Eagles, and was ready to come in and contribute right away.

“He came to Marquette and was a backup guard, kind of a combo guard,” Dodds said. “We thought he was going to be a point guard, but he was more of a 2/3. In his freshman year, the first exhibition game, he significantly hurt his left thumb. Rather than having surgery on it, he just played through it the entire year. He couldn’t dribble with his left hand, and he was very limited. But he still got out and played that year.”

In that freshman campaign, Elliott appeared in 35 games, starting four contests. He averaged 4.5 points per game, and shot 51% from the field and 37% from three-point range. It was a great start to his college career, and he was looking like he would be a key contributor for the program for years to come. But then, the injury bug bit him once again. He had re-injured his thumb, and although he was ready to come back around Christmas, Wojciechowski thought it was best for him to sit out the entire year, so he did.

Now entering his redshirt sophomore season, Elliott felt like he was finally ready to shake the injuries off, get back out on the court, and hoop like he always had. His leadership was always visible and he had shown off his skill set in bunches, but he was now two years into his college career and his career was defined by injuries. Then, again, disaster struck.

“So in his redshirt sophomore year, he came back and he as doing really well in the summer, and then he went up and landed on somebody’s foot. He broke his lower leg right near the ankle. That took him probably about 18 months to come back from. It was too bad that he had these injuries, because it cost him his quickness.”

“He came back and he developed his outside shot, and he was very good from three. But then, in Wojo’s last year, he started having a bit more problems with the leg. I never found out exactly if he had more surgery on it or what, but he had to sit out for a while because it was bothering him. So his entire Marquette career, he was really limited by injuries.”

However, Elliott wouldn’t let those injuries define him. His character, brains, and work ethic shined through, and his coaches, teammates, and fans all took notice.

“As a character guy, he’s really an interesting guy,” Dodds said. “Both Wojo and Shaka said that he is going to end up coaching. He is one of the smartest guys they have ever come across. He kind of takes the young guys under his wing and teaches them what to do. He picks up things immediately. I always thought that if he couldn’t do something on defense, it was because his leg was bothering him.”

One of the best games of his Marquette career came against UCLA in his senior campaign. Against the No. 4 Bruins, Elliott scored a career-high 22 points, hitting 7 of his 12 attempts and six of his nine attempts from three-point range. He had led his Golden Eagle teammates — nine of which were freshman or redshirt freshman — in a battle against one of the top teams in America.

“Greg was kind of the senior spokesperson for them,” Dodds said. “He was the only one that kept Marquette in the game. It was just these wide-eyed youngsters against one of the top teams in the country. But Elliott kept them in there. But it was tough for him. At one point, Shaka thought that he was going to transfer, and I think he originally said he was going to transfer. But he got to know Shaka, what he was all about, and said, ‘I want to stay.’ Shaka said, ‘Welcome aboard.’ So he stayed the last year. But he knew that he had this extra year.”

On Tuesday, after visiting over the weekend, Elliott decided that he would play for Pitt during his last season of college ball. With over 110 games of experience to his name, he has hit over 90 threes in his career and scored over 600 points. For a team that has been majorly rebuilt this offseason, he will have to come in and lead the Panthers, whether he is coming off the bench or in the starting lineup.

“His leadership skills, top of the line,” Dodds added. “Unselfish. He wins. Streaky shooter, can throw it up from 26 feet and the three-point. Always falls down. Kind of like Jayson Tatum with the Celtics. He’s always throwing the ball and falling down, that’s Greg Elliott.”

Dodds added that after his 22-point outburst against UCLA, opposing teams in the Big East seemed to guard Elliott more closely on the perimeter, which lead to the majority of his buckets from deep coming in transition.

“He’s very good from the corners, from three, and if his legs come back a bit, and he was healthy all of last year, if he builds on that, Pitt could really have a nice player.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Joe Cursi
Joe Cursi
2 years ago

Wow!! We got a guy who couldn’t make it at Marquette!!!

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