Friday, March 22, 2013


Opinion: Perry Ellis picks perfect time to turn up aggressiveness


— Sitting at the same Sprint Center locker he used in the Big 12 tournament, Kansas University senior center Jeff Withey thought back to a play during the regular season. He couldn’t remember the game. He just remembered not liking the play. Freshman teammate Perry Ellis missed another short shot, frittering away another two points.

“I’m not a guy who is going to grab you by the neck or anything like that, but I was like, ‘Dunk the ball!’ I just got in his face and told him to be aggressive,” Withey said. “I think everybody on the team has done that with Perry at one time or another.”

Nobody knows an athlete’s talent level more deeply than a teammate who alternately shares the floor and battles against him daily in practice. Long before Ellis shocked the world by scoring 23 points against Iowa State in a Big 12 tournament semifinal, teammates knew he had serious ability. His most impressive athletic trait?

“The way that he runs,” Withey said. “He runs like a guard. He’s brought the ball up the court so many times in practice and even some in games. He’s just an athlete, and it’s annoying when he doesn’t put it into play.”

He’s putting it into play now, and as Withey said, “It couldn’t be at a more perfect time.”

Ellis, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound reserve power forward, led Wichita Heights to four consecutive state titles and set the City League career scoring record since broken by KU recruit Conner Frankamp. Often during the first few months of the season, Ellis looked like just another freshman struggling to find his way. He dunked the ball twice in his first 34 games, four times in the past two, during which he made 15 of 18 field-goal attempts and averaged 17.5 points and six rebounds.

Early in their KU careers, Marcus and Markieff Morris drew the ire of coach Bill Self for not dunking close shots, but in their case it was more a case of not wanting to exert the energy. In Ellis’ case, his mind was so cluttered with information he didn’t see the simple plays.

“The hardest part adjusting from high school to college was just mentally,” Ellis said. “It’s just a lot more. There are just a lot more details, a lot more specific details. It can be overwhelming as a freshman. Just getting over that was the best thing for me. You kind of get used to what you have to do and know what you have to do, and it makes you feel comfortable.”

Sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe is a year removed from his time as an overwhelmed freshman, and he has enjoyed watching Ellis come so far, so quickly.

“He wasn’t dunking as much as he should,” Tharpe said. “He would lay it up at times when we would prefer him to dunk it. I’m seeing him trying to dunk everything now, and that’s how he should be because he’s a great athlete, and he’s a great player.”

Tharpe said he saw a change in Ellis in the practices leading up to the Big 12 tourney. Withey saw him begin to blossom then as well, but even at that Ellis exceeded Withey’s short-term expectations.

“He just started being more aggressive. You could see him going after the ball with two hands. He was getting more rebounds and stuff, but honestly it wasn’t until that breakout game that I saw him put everything into play, be ultra-aggressive, finally dunk the ball, do everything we wanted him to do early on,” Withey said. “It just clicked, I guess.”

So did the team.

Ellis explained the change by saying, “I’ve just been trying to get in the gym and working on really attacking the rim, and it’s really benefited me.”

Withey said he has seen Ellis getting used to finishing plays with dunks for the past couple of weeks, “and that’s why we’re seeing it more in games, just because when you do it all the time it doesn’t become a thought, it becomes a habit. You do have to put in a little extra effort to get up there and make sure you slam it down. The outcome is you get more energy because of it.”

Ellis is an intriguing prospect in that he brings a little bit of everything from the forward position, and he shared which former KU players’ games he has tried to model.

“I like the twins’ game,” he said, meaning Marcus and Markieff Morris. “I watched a lot of them when I was in high school.”

Ellis said he incorporated “short jump shots” into his game after watching them score so many points with them: “They really had a nice touch. That’s something I’ve really been working on since seeing them, and I feel like I have some of that.”

What else?

“When they had a bigger defender on them, they could pull it out and shoot some jump shots on him,” Ellis said. “When they had a smaller defender on them, they could take him to the hole and post up.”

And they came to appreciate the joy in dunking, as has Ellis to the benefit of his team’s hopes of winning a fourth NCAA Tournament.


iamakufan 1 year, 1 month ago

I am really looking forward to watching Perry Ellis play and watching his development. So high an upside. And a very nice young man, too.


Woody Cragg 1 year, 1 month ago

Am I the only guy disappointed that Ellis didn't get on the floor more with Kevin & Jeff this season? There have been opp times for him with Ben's fouls troubles & other mis-steps. His skillset coming in was at the 3, but Norm & Bill kept trying to play him at the 4 from dire need, clearly compounding typical struggles for a new kid in the okie ball system. Guess they know what they're doing so haven't dissented that much. When I did some were quick to pile on. Is he up for a Deshaun Thomas on the D end? Dunno, but his quickness to recognize the double is going to be foremost going forward, cause you can bet he's going to be a huge part of opponents game plans from here on out. No more under the radar for this kid. The day is fast approaching when he is our main threat & he'll be a real pleasure to watch as his game gets better n better. In fact, I'd enjoy the krap outta watching him explode over the weekend! Friggin weather is going to get butt ugly again so unless I end up at BWW for the games via the 4WD, it'll be another log on the fire weekend for me, the little woman, & the dog. Fridge full, generator ready to go, so bring it on. Weatherman said someone will get a foot-that's what she said! LOLOLOL!


monkeehawkSL8 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank GOD that Perry is coming into his game.1) Everything that has taken place this year in the growth of this team couldn't have happened any other way. The article is positive and recognizes the truth of the situation at hand. 2) Some reaction to it is unrealistic, glass not even half full, dribble off your own foot out of bounds, whining, if only everything was different than it is, bunk. On the other hand, " take care of the ball and we can win it all". RCJH KAAAAAUOOOOOO!


Tony Bandle 1 year, 1 month ago

Like a True Blue and Crimson Jayhawk, I penciled in Kansas to go all the way and win the NC in my brackets.

Do I want it to happen??......Absolutely.

Do I think it's can happen??...Yes.

Do I believe it will happen??....Frankly, I can't say yes.

North Carolina, Florida, Georgetown, Indiana, Louisville is just too steep a climb. Barring any upsets, has anyone had to face five consecutive schools with a national championship pedigree before???

I think the Elite Eight is possible and will be disappointed if we don't make the Sweet Sixteen and get Bill KU Victory #300. I hope with all my heart I'm wrong...buit I don't think I am.


jaybate 1 year, 1 month ago

Two things.

  1. The premise of this article is nuts. The best time for Perry to have reached this level of performance would have been the first game of the season. Perry's slow development has been a huge problem for this team all season. The proper way to characterize the situation is: thank god he finally found his game in time for the stretch run.

  2. My god, The Designer could be a great 3. Its his natural position for sure. Self is just playing him at the 4, because he needs a 4 this year and wants a stretch 4 for next year. Perry will be good in this role, but he could have been a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist type at the 3. A guy that NO ONE could handle. When he was struggling so much, his ineptness at the 4 bled into some thinking he could not possibly play the 3. I even got to wondering at one point if he lacked springs, which I think he still does a bit, without a one step jump. My guess is that an off season of weight training is going to turn those already coordinated quads and calves of his into NASA first stage launch vehicles. The tragedy of Randle not coming is that unless Jamari and Embiid were to develop at light speed, Perry will have to play the 4 next year and then go pro without ever playing the 3, which would be his best fit as a pro. Sad. But Perry is a smart, dedictated guy who will make the best of it, as Marcus Morris did, too.


Michael Luby 1 year, 1 month ago

Now Ben needs to give us 20 a game. If he does that along with Perry in beast mode, any team they play, they will beat.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 1 month ago

If I were KU fans living in Lawrence making reservations in a KC hotel might be more fun than driving in the snow...

What the heck declare a basketball vacation and live it up....


Joe Ross 1 year, 1 month ago

The advantage lies less in the fact that Perry has to be prepared for and more in the fact that he's playing in a way that makes him a consideration.


Ron Franklin 1 year, 1 month ago

I've been wondering the last couple days if Perry's emergenance will have a big impact on the scouting reports for other teams. They have to have two separate plans to cover our 4 guy because their games are completely different.

Anybody think this small detail provides an advantage?


nuleafjhawk 1 year, 1 month ago

“I’m not a guy who is going to grab you by the neck or anything like that, but I was like, ‘Dunk the ball!’ I just got in his face and told him to be aggressive,” Withey said.


If I had a nickel for every time I've screamed "DUNK THE BALL" at Withey, I'd be a bazillionaire.

That got my day off to a good start !!


Dirk Medema 1 year, 1 month ago

There was an article early in the season in which I think it was Coach Self that commented on ideally having Young be an energy guy coming off the bench with Perry starting. The way that it is playing out now, Perry's D is still on the weak side, but he should be subbing in against a lesser opponent, and has the ability to go on a scoring outburst. Sort of a stretched version of the short guard/6th man from ISU that doesn't miss.

Perry's ability to handle the ball could become hugely important if we end up playing a pressing team like VCU. It's always nice to have a big guy in the middle that you can just throw the ball up to.


Ryan Lee 1 year, 1 month ago

Me and a fellow hawker have said all year that how far we go depends on the ability of Ellis to play above a freshman level and for Elijah to develop a senior Captain mentality that was prevalent in Tyshawn, Heinrich, Russ Robb (Signs) etc...

Perry is doing so.

Elijah, buddy we are behind you. Out of that whole class you were my most excited signee. You have this whole tourney to remind us who you truly are. We are proud of you. Now step up and go get that ring homeboy!


phogphan2000 1 year, 1 month ago

Attack the basket! Keep it up Perry. We might need you to help bring the ball up the court at times in this tourney also, so be ready.


nostradavid 1 year, 1 month ago

You got that right Keegs.

Ellis can visualize looking down on the players below in his dreams. Get the girl, and throw the ball down like a little biplane. Have fun!

Dream BIG!

Dream BIG! by nostradavid


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