CHICAGO - By now, the story of Gerald Henderson and Wayne Ellington is a familiar one.
Two talented young basketball players enroll at Episcopal Academy the same year and become best friends. They flourish together on the court for the next four years, and then head off to play in the same conference for rival teams that are among the most successful in college basketball.
Last week, the duo was reunited at the NBA draft combine.
Having given up their senior year of eligibility, Henderson and Ellington were among the 52 prospects in town to work out for coaches and front-office personnel from every team in the league.
"It's good to have Wayne by my side during this process," Henderson said.
At Duke, Henderson became the go-to player as last season unfolded, and the 6-foot-4 leaper responded by scoring 16.5 points per game and holding his own at the defensive end.
Ellington, also 6-4 but about 15 pounds lighter, overcame a so-so start to average 15.8 points, and was named the outstanding player of the NCAA tournament's Final Four after his North Carolina squad won the national championship.
Now, both will listen for their names to be called in the first round of the draft, to be held June 25 in New York. The 21-year-old shooting guards are represented by Arn Tellem of Los Angeles, where they have been working out along with Chester native Tyreke Evans, among others.
"It's been a lot of fun to take this journey together," said Ellington, who declared for the draft last year only to withdraw when the feedback suggested he do so.
"What if we did go to school together?" he said. "You never know. It could have been a good thing. It could have been a bad thing. Right now, we're both satisfied with where we went. It's such a small window. Not a lot of guys get this opportunity and are drafted."
Ellington said that he and Henderson knew each other from youth leagues before their high school years, and that they clicked immediately when they hooked up at Episcopal Academy. Because of the proximity of their college campuses in North Carolina, they got together frequently during the off-season.
The best of the rivalry between North Carolina and Duke went to Ellington's Tar Heels, who played in two Final Fours (winning one title) during his time in Chapel Hill.
Henderson, who had wrist surgery after his sophomore season and did not consider entering the draft as Ellington did, marveled at how they took different roads to arrive at the same place again.
"It's ironic that we came out of high school the same year and are going to the next level the same year," he said. "It's crazy for something like this to happen, even for him to come to Episcopal Academy and both of us become McDonald's all-Americans. I'm sure that hasn't happened a lot.
"I feel like had we gone to the same school, we would have been great. We just liked different things in the schools we chose. Ultimately, we both wanted to go somewhere where we could do our own things and shine at different spots."
For both players, the next several weeks will bring workouts before NBA teams. They have already had a slew, but realize it's part of the process.
"You go in and show what you got," Henderson said. "Hopefully, come June 25, everything works out as you've planned. I've looked forward to playing in the NBA."
"People always said, 'Man, you're going to the NBA,' " Ellington said. "But I never listened to that. It's a dream of mine, and a dream that will, hopefully, come true."