Wednesday, December 5, 2012

KU freshman Perry Ellis: College transition tough but rewarding

Kansas forward Perry Ellis looks to pass around Michigan State center Adreian Payne during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis looks to pass around Michigan State center Adreian Payne during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.


Perry Ellis won’t argue with anybody who says the first semester of one’s college career just might be the most difficult of all.

“I mean, it’s pretty tough. You really have to focus,” Ellis, Kansas University’s 6-foot-8 freshman basketball forward from Wichita, said as Friday’s Stop Day approaches, signaling the end of fall semester of the 2012-13 school year. “There’s so much you have to do compared to high school. So many other things are thrown at you whether academics, basketball,” added Ellis, Class of 2012 valedictorian at Wichita Heights High School, who said he’s been tested, but not overwhelmed at KU.

“I’m just a freshman trying to get better,” he said. “I just do what they tell me and try to get better as a player and a person.”

The 225-pound McDonald’s All-American and four-time high school state champion has averaged 6.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 16.0 minutes a game over seven games. He’s hit 47.1 percent of his shots and 76.5 percent of his free throws heading into Saturday’s 1 p.m., home game against Colorado.

“Defense is the main thing. You’ve got to get out on defense and everything else comes from that,” Ellis said of lessons learned on the court thus far.

Ellis — he has started two of seven games — has competed for minutes at the power forward spot with senior Kevin Young (4.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 18.3 minutes per game, four starts) and red-shirt freshman Jamari Traylor (2.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 13.3 minutes per game, one start).

“I think it is going to make us all better players,” Ellis said of the competition. “We are all competing at practice. I think it’ll work out.”

KU coach Bill Self said Ellis “has improved so much,” since arriving on campus for summer school in June.

“This is a compliment to Perry, so nobody take this the wrong way ... he is a teaser,” Self said, asked about Ellis on Monday’s weekly “Hawk Talk” radio show. “He shows you how fast he can run. He shows you how high he can jump. He shows you how he can score, so you want that more often. You want more.”

Self said that as a conscientious freshman, Ellis is “trying to fit in. He is not one of those kids that can just say, ‘Hey forget it. I’m just going to go play.’ He’s one of those, ‘I want to play, but don’t you want me to be over here or do you want this foot up or back?’ He analyzes everything too much and then he gets slow and not aggressive. He’ll come out of it when he quits thinking. Usually you want guys that can think. I want guys that don’t think, that just go play.

“After they learn what to do, why do they need to think? It becomes reactionary,” Self added. “He is not at that level yet. Everybody is important to our team without question, but he is really important because he is a guy who can score. We’ve got to get him where he is more aggressive. He has shown flashes of that.”

Ellis had 15 points in KU’s season-opener against SE Missouri State and 12 against Washington State. He’s totaled four points in each of the last three games, against Oregon State, San Jose State and Saint Louis.

“He needs to have some success in the game,” Self said. “He needs to see the ball go in the hole. I’ve seen in practice he catches it and shoots it. In the game, he catches it, hesitates and tries to back a guy down rather than make an aggressive move. It’s something he’ll get better at. He’s more than capable.

“We also have to understand, hey, Julian (Wright) wasn’t good enough to start until after Christmas, neither was Mario Chalmers. Those guys turned out to be pretty good players. It’s a different deal, different speed, different competitive level. He’ll get there. He just needs some time and a lot of reps.”

Ellis said his teammates have made the transition to college less difficult.

“Just listening to these guys every day ... the seniors really help me out a lot, motivating me day in and out,” Ellis said. “Jeff (Withey), Elijah (Johnson), Travis ... I look and see what they do in practice and kind of follow what they do. And Kevin ... the energy he brings is something I can take from his game and get better, the energy he brings on the court,” Ellis added.


jhawkjedi 1 year, 4 months ago

One thing appears crystal clear to me from a careful reading of these comments (and others on this board). Jaybate is not an MU grad. :)


Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 4 months ago

Very interesting to see Ellis as a frosh, compared to TRob as a frosh. Finesse vs. brawn. TRob fighting for his deep personal reasons, looking to bball as literally his lifeline to changing his entire existence (& he did it!). But so raw and unharnessed as a frosh. Ellis may have more bball ability as a frosh, yet his very strong passion arises from a very deep competetive fire to an almost Jordan-like level. Tasting defeat or not being able to be a starter just yet, may produce within Ellis just the type of beast mode Self needs, and Self may be doing all of this with Ellis by design. He's done it before, well-chronicled here by many of us...(Chalmers, RussRob, etc...). Perry Ellis will be just fine. Too much in his favor...


tathagata 1 year, 4 months ago

Wu wei---to do without doing, to strive without striving, to achieve without achieving. The man of wu wei does nothing, and yet it all gets done.


d_bradley27 1 year, 4 months ago

Interesting that HCBS knows Perry needs reps yet yanks him out of the game at the slighest mistake. It doesn't add up. Perry by far is the best four we have and he's a freshman. These early games should be used to develop him, not rip him at every turn. ( see any time out during the last 4 games) Yes, Perry is a thinker but you knew that during the recruiting process. Leave him in the game so he can learn especially if he's "very important b/c he can score". I'm a huge Self fan but his handling of Perry thus far has been curious. Maybe a different approach will yield better results. Hate to see Perry not reach his full potential.

Rock Chalk!


JayHulk 1 year, 4 months ago



lawerencejayhawk 1 year, 4 months ago

When talking about our freshman class, let's take a breif look at some stats of our freshmen. In Eurpore our best two players on this Kansas team were Perry Ellis and Andrew White III. Neither were in the top 3 of minutes played but were #1 and #2 in scoring. Perry rebounded well with a 5.5 average, Shot 65% from the floor, 87% from the free throw line and 10.3 points per game. Andrew White III led in scoring and in steals with a 11 point per game average. This was against professional players, some of which are in the NBA this season. You must also know the Europe trip was in early August and only after ten offical Kansas pratices with Bill Self not coaching every game (KU Assistants)

In conclussion, the new type of recruit Perry and AWIII, has the talent when they arrived but KU must do a better job developing this talent into the system, so they can be more productive sooner rather than later. Maybe even a coach whose responsibility is to develop recruits in the Bill Self system to eliminate early struggles.

Perry, we love you in Lawerence. Keep working hard & good luck!


Michael Sillman 1 year, 4 months ago

I agree with HEM that the quick hook is detrimental to the young guys particularly Tharpe. I'm a 3 strikes guy. If you do 3 bad things in a row without a good thing then you are out. Self clearly does not share that philosophy unless you are a Senior or a special player like Mclemore that you can't take out.


HawkKlaw 1 year, 4 months ago

This is, yet again, just Coach Self sending not-so-subtle messages through the media to Perry Ellis. He's been harping on this all season - "Ellis looks like a deer in the headlights." "He thinks too much." "He's not aggressive enough."

But he revealed something more in this article: He's expecting the transition from "deer in the headlights" to "playing, not thinking" by around Xmas. My guess is, when the Spring semester begins, Ellis will be the starter from then on out.

Bill Self is just teaching Ellis how to be a big time player at KU before he throws him into the fire.

Step 1: Learn the system.

Step 2: Use your immense talents to dominate within the system.

As for HEM's "quick hook" theory: Of course Ellis is thinking too much about getting the quick hook when he gets in the game. Bill Self's point is that good players get past that.

Think about Naadir Tharpe last season. He was on the shortest leash of anyone on the team. Every turnover, he got the hook (and boy, there were a lot of them). He no doubt played tight and over-thought a lot of things, which contributed to the turnovers and poor play.

Contrast that with this season.

Naadir doesn't turn the ball over, excels in running the offense, makes smart plays and generally plays a lot looser on both ends of the court. It's like night and day with Naadir. He's learned how to get past the fear of getting the quick hook.

Good players figure out how to let go of that fear. After all, this is not a charity to help Ellis' draft stock. It's KU basketball. The competition should be fierce. If a player gets minutes on the court and doesn't know where he's supposed to be or what he's supposed to do, he shouldn't be playing a whole lot.

Contrast Ellis' play with Young's. Young is all energy and instinct. He doesn't worry about where he's supposed to be on the court because he has gotten past that. He knows he's right where he is supposed to be and doesn't have to think about it at all. That's where Perry Ellis will be and it sounds like Bill Self expects the shift from "playing tight" to "using instinct to play well within the system" pretty soon.


COHawk10 1 year, 4 months ago

So I got bored for a minute last night and started watching some highlights of next year's recruiting class. I don't want us to get ahead of ourselves, so this is not really about them. But while I was there I saw a video of Jacksmack - Jack Harry's somewhat inane commentary. This particular episode was him admitting he had been wrong about last year's team (obviously - this is not about them either). During his commentary, he said that part of what made HCBS so good was his brutal honesty and that he didn't play mind games. Actually he said (about Bill's comments after the Davidson loss) "Self was not using those words as some kind of psychological ploy... to fire up his troops - he doesn't operate that way." Anyway, that was as off-base as the comments he was already there apologizing for.

My point is that Bill needs to do what Bill needs to do. By sacrificing some scoring now to get into Perry's head and make him go beast mode, he is investing in the future of this team. He's doing the same thing with AW3. He doesn't do it much with seniors or OADs, but everyone else gets what I've seen referred to around here as the "toughening box." That, combined with his X and O brilliance is what makes HCBS the best coach in America.

Here's a link to Jack, if you're interested:


Jack Wilson 1 year, 4 months ago

I would just toss this out .. folks have a tendency to write off or mock Kentucky or UCLA based on current performances.

Remember, they have very talented, young players who will develop much like our young players. The same logic applies.

However, I think it might be argued that guys like Muhammad or Poythress or Noel will be much more of a force as they get more game under their belts than less talented freshmen. I guess what I'm saying is that while I love Andrew White, I doubt he will impact games like Muhammad this year. I doubt that tragectory of impact will be steeper. Doesn't look like he'll start. And will Ellis impact like Noel? Maybe. Will his improvement be at a steeper angle than Noel? At least something to think about.

We saw Marquis Teague look horrible in November, and then worthy of a first round pick in March last season.

I just wouldn't scoff at either team just yet.


William Blake 1 year, 4 months ago

I don't know if I'd tell Perry to stop thinking. After all, he is a student!

But I'd advise him to put more energy into feeling the beat. Focus on the beat. Perry needs to find his rhythm in D1. Feeling it is better than thinking it.

"He'll get there."

Yes... he will! Perry is developing well and we'll continually notice his improvement.


Tony Bandle 1 year, 4 months ago

Damn!! Now I've got to spend an hour googling zen, wu wei, dialectics, ashram, lucre, etc. so I can understand what you all are talking about.

i guess it would be uncool to simply say he is a talented freshman going through the natural learning curve of competing against higher quality competition!!


jaybate 1 year, 4 months ago


I was meant to forget, so that you would remember. :-)

Hindus too. Native Americans and native Africans had and have a lot of great enlightenment trations too.

Big tent, enlightenment. All welcome! Even me. :-)


tathagata 1 year, 4 months ago

Hey, jaybate. You forgot the most important of all, zen and the art of wu wei.


Jack Wilson 1 year, 4 months ago

Hmmm ... Ellis thinking too much. Not just going out there and playing. Not just being "reactionary."

I would not say that is a problem unique to Ellis.

It is a problem that plagues players that get quick hooks. I have no doubt Self is correct about Ellis. And I'm not suggesting that the quick hook is the only cause. It's not. I'm just pointing out that there may be a reason why freshmen, or others, play hesitantly.

An example is McLemor; he gets to play. I haven't seen him get the quick hook yet.

If you think your first mistake is going to land you on the bench, it is natural that you will play tighter, and more reserved.

That being said, my bet is that coach Self has an "equity" system. Most coaches do. You build up enough positive equity, you get more rope. Positive equity can include overwhelming talent -- McLemore. Or not -- Selby (meaning it seemed like he had little "equity"). EJ has never had the same "equity" that Taylor had. Taylor got more rope than any player in KU history.

Regardless, the substantial contribution of the quick hook to a player's psyche, and his ability to just play, and to play "reactionary" as Self put it, can't be ignored.


bradynsdad 1 year, 4 months ago

Can someone explain "reclassifying" to me please? I only went to high school for 4 years. Does it mean that they are planning on attending a year of prep school and decided not too? Seems like every top prospect in the country is doing this.


jaybate 1 year, 4 months ago

The Designer is easy to put in perspective.

He is struggling through a Self rebuild and 2 guys that know the ropes, and still playing 15 mpg and getting the best numbers of the three.

A Self rebuild assumes you can get way better by not only being what you already are, but also by becoming your opposite.

Scorers become defenders.

Defenders become scorers.

Thinkers are made into non thinkers.

Non thinkers become thinkers.

Vertical guys become horizontal guys.

Horizontal guys learn vertical.

Weak become strong.

Heavy get lean.

Fast learn slow and slow learn fast.

Shooters learn glue.

Gluers learn impact.

Happy go luckies get serious.

The serious lighten up.

Minds become bodies and bodies become minds.

The goal is not to give up what you were, but to become the part of you you are not yet being-- and then to become more than either.

This is the essence of Tumbleweed Basketball Buddhism. Of Oklahoma Hardscrabble Cager Christianity. Of Ark River Jamming Judaism. Of Red Clay Hoops Islam.

Opposites attract.

The opposite sides of ourselves attract.

And when the opposites finally get close enough, an arc of pure energy releases.

This is the deep spirit and physics of Self Ball.

Fusing constructive opposites to release an order of magnitude increase in individual and team energy.

Westerners often go to Tibet to seek an ashram high in the Himalayas and a wise man to help them achieve enlightenment--to help them to arc east and west--to release the pure energy that is enlightenment.

Allen Field House and the university in Kansas form a kind of remote prairie ashram and Katmandu on an ocean of grass--the Great Plains--North America's horizontal equivalent of Asia's vertical Himalayas--a place where one can hear one's self think and explore possibilities for enlightenment amidst the quest for lucre. Life is both.

Perhaps one day those furiously hard working young people of China now undergoing the crucible of industry and information will take a break and journey to Kansas and Lawrence to walk the razor's edge and make the arc.


KULA 1 year, 4 months ago

Hope Perry progresses fast enough to have his breakout game against Ohio State. That would be Sweet!


ParisHawk 1 year, 4 months ago

"Hey, high school valedictorian, stop thinking!"

Easier said than done.

Ellis is probably out there thinking about how he's thinking too much. Intelligent people can tie themselves into knots.


makeshift 1 year, 4 months ago

He will get better at banging. Break through the USC Trojan defense.


phogphan2000 1 year, 4 months ago

I want to see Perry Ellis get a double double off dunks and defensive boards. It's nice to hear HCBS say he's been teased by how high he can jump, 'cause he really hasn't shown that in a game. You know the shooting touch is there, you know the footwork is there, let's see you get up Perry! If Self is challenging EJ to drive it like TT, I think he needs to challenge Mr. Ellis to dunk it like TRob. Take a game, try to dunk every time you catch it in the post, every time you snag an offensive board in the paint, just go for it. We can handle a few offensive fouls, but get after it. We can't have you releasing before the defensive board is secure either, that's the PF's job on this team. Most defensive stops end in a rebound, and HCBS loves defensive stops.


kusayzone 1 year, 4 months ago

Oh Perry, such pressure of being the best at all times, both academically and on the basketball court. My only advice would be simple. I hope you find some time in your KU experience just have some fun, because there is a whole bunch of guys on the team that you will be bonded with for the rest of your life. The time goes so fast......


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