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Amanda Altschuler

Amanda Altschuler

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Wayne Ellington now will have to be careful while preparing to launch his ever-sweet jumpshot.Wouldn't want to bump the ball against the giant-sized chip on his shoulder.Ellington, the former star wing guard at Episcopal Academy (Class of 2006) and the University of North Carolina, was projected to go as high as the middle of the first round in last night's NBA draft.

Instead, he dropped like a pebble - not quite a stone - before going to Minnesota at spot No.

28, two before the end of the round.One of his first thoughts about those teams that neglected to take him?"They'll be sorry," Ellington said, smiling.What a crazy, draining night.Ellington's family, based for the past 3 years in Cary, N.C., hosted a private party for about 50 family members and friends at Vino, a restaurant-lounge on 2nd Street, a block south of Girard Avenue, in Northern Liberties.The mood was festive early.

Though Wayne and his closest family members were at first holed up in a private room, separated from the rest of the place by a curtain and watching a big-screen TV.

Wayne remained inside only for pick No.


He then emerged to meet and greet and pose for enough pictures to almost be blinded by the numerous flashes.Later, back in the room it was.

Not that he was very relaxed.

He hopped from a chair to a loveseat to a sofa and ultimatety wound up sitting next to his girlfriend, Amanda Altschuler.He watched with a grin as former Episcopal classmate Gerald Henderson (Duke) was plucked at No.

12 by Charlotte.

And again immediately thereafter at No.

13, when fellow UNC star Tyler Hansbrough went to Indiana.After pick No.

14, the tension and sauna-like conditions inside the room became too much.

Ellington walked to the back and stood at the top of a small set of stairs, looking back over his shoulder.Before No.

16, Ellington's father, Wayne Sr., said aloud, "It's just about time."Nothing.Before No.

17, owned by the Sixers, he exchanged thoughts with a TV cameraman and could be heard saying, "It would make sense.

We'll see."Earlier in the evening, Dad said the whole family was hoping the Sixers would be Wayne Jr.'s new home."That's every player's dream, isn't it?" he said.

"You go away for college, then get the chance to come home as a pro.

Northing better."As commissioner David Stern prepared to announce the name, Dad roared at the TV, "C'mon, let's do this!"Nothing.Altschuler could contain her disappointment no more.

She began crying and, with that, she and Ellington were off for a walk into the plaza outside Vino.

They wound up sitting together, all alone, at a circular table, complete with yellow umbrella, about 50 yards away behind a small group of fir trees.

At the far end of the plaza, attached to the wall of a building, was a gigantic big-screen TV.Ellington's back was turned to it.

It wasn't that he didn't want to watch anymore.

The TV was showing the Phillies-Tampa Bay game.Every so often, a well-wisher would walk over and try to console the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player."It was hard.

Very, very hard," Ellington said, referring to the lengthy wait and the vast disappointment it caused.Out in the main room, the selections of others were not greeted warmly.For one the response was, "That guy?! You gotta be kiddin' me! He's terrible!"By the time Minnesota prepared to pick, Ellington's dad, looking dazed, was sitting across two chairs, tucked inside the curtain at the very back of the room.Suddenly, he brightened.

Right after taking a call on his cell phone."He's going right now!" he roared.

"I know it for a fact!"He then moved to the front of the room and pumped up those on hand even before Stern began chirping.

Then, all went wild as they saw Wayne Ellington finally achieve his latest goal.What they didn't see right then was Wayne himself.

Everyone rushed outside..



And here came Wayne and Amanda, accompanied by a few folks and walking back toward Vino.

As everyone applauded and yelled and snapped away with digital cameras, there were lengthy hugs for Dad and Mom (Elaine), who'd remained remarkably calm all night.

Wayne cried so many tears, a bout with dehydration would not have surprised."I'm excited," he said.

"I have my opportunity.

Make the best of it.

I'm looking forward to getting out there to play.

I can't wait.

Show what I can do."[Going late] is motivation.

Nothing new.

Just have to work my way to where I want to be.

It's all part of it."Ellington said he'd worked out two different times for Minnesota, with the most recent occasion being 3 days ago.

And that, like dad, he'd received a call from his agent to let him know right beforehand that the Timberwolves would indeed be the one."It was a long wait, but I'm happy," he said.

"I'm in The League.

I'm relieved.

I'm ready to work and make the best of it.

I definitely feel I can contribute.

It's a great opportunity.

They have a lot of talented young guys and I think I'll be able to fit in well."As for the lost Philly opportunity .


."My girlfriend is from Drexel.

She would have loved it, along with my family," he said.

"But this is my path." *�
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