Sunday, February 16, 2014


Column: Kansas’ Perry Ellis strives for perfection on, off court

Kansas forward Perry Ellis delivers a dunk before TCU forward Amric Fields during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis delivers a dunk before TCU forward Amric Fields during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.



Kansas forward Perry Ellis delivers a dunk before TCU forward Amric Fields during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Show me a straight-A student, a high school valedictorian, and I’ll show you a perfectionist. Perry Ellis is no exception.

“I definitely am like that,” Ellis said.

Academic perfection was attainable in high school for Ellis, but not without a lot of sweat, he insisted.

“It was definitely tough for me,” he said.

“It didn’t come easy for me. I had to work to get those grades. That’s why I always tell people anybody can do it. You just have to work hard at it, and good things will happen.”

Ellis always has worked hard at his basketball skills as well. He just now is getting comfortable with the reality that while straight A’s were attainable in the high school classroom, not even the best who ever played the game can achieve it on the court.

“With basketball, I’m like that, too, and that can mess you up at times,” Ellis said of his perfectionist nature. “You can’t do everything perfect in sports. You mess up. That kind of gets to me sometimes. I’m just trying to learn to get past that part, the sports aspect of it. I can definitely say I get kind of hesitant sometimes, being a perfectionist. I know I can do it, but I haven’t perfected it yet. I’m really trying to work on that, not worrying about being perfect in sports.”

Leaving his man to supply help on defense doesn’t come naturally to him, he said, and pointed to that as the No. 1 place he needs to improve. He said he also needs to continue to improve the accuracy and range of his jump shot. Chances are, given his nature, he already has extended his range beyond what any of us know, he just hasn’t pulled back the curtain for us to see it yet. He did provide a sneak preview in Saturday’s 95-65 victory against TCU.

Ellis went 2-for-2 from beyond the three-point semicircle on his way to 32 points and eight rebounds on a day he made 13 of 15 shots from the field.

And this came one game after Kansas State coach Bruce Weber suggested that Ellis is MVP of the Big 12.

Ellis’ recent scoring surge — he averaged 25.5 points last week in a loss at Kansas State and the TCU win at home — could in part be traced to filling the void created by injuries that limited Joel Embiid to 18 points at K-State and kept him out of the TCU game.

Or could it also be that Ellis is at the beginning of another mid-February growth spurt such as the one he experienced as a freshman? He shot .392 from the field in his first 26 games last year, .603 in his last 11.

His offensive skill set is so versatile he has the potential to give the man guarding him nightmares, regardless of who else is on the court with him. He blows by big men who chase him to the perimeter and has the shooting touch to make them respect his jumper.

Offensively, he’ll have little trouble making the move to the perimeter, if that’s where Kansas needs him in future years.

“Eventually I’ll have to transition into that,” Ellis said. “If I play at the next level, that’s the position (small forward) I’ll most likely be at. I won’t be in the post.”

Fortunately, discussion on when Ellis will try to play in the NBA isn’t relevant at the moment. Chances are, two years from now, his name will surface in conversations about the nation’s best seniors.


Stéphane Roque 7 years, 7 months ago

IMHO it's not Perry's perfectionism that gets in the way of his progress, it's really just the personality that Perry has that presents somewhat of an obstacle for him. For the record, I'm probably the biggest Perry supporter out there, but good lord, this kid can do some amazing things with the game of basketball if he's able to develop more physicality and aggressiveness around the rim. I think he can do it, and maybe he will, maybe he won't, but the best part about Perry Ellis is that he more than likely will be a three or four year player and will 100 % without a doubt make all KU alums proud of who he is as a person after KU - basketball or not.

Steve Zimmerman 7 years, 7 months ago

Finally!! Those were the kind of plays that Ellis need to make on the interior. That lob pass to Wiggins was awesome! Wait till Embiid is back on action. We'll see more dunks. Yay!! If he plays loose like that everytime, boy, he'll rack up with stats here and there. The 3s look perfect alright. I hope HCBS give him a go on each game. Here's a room for fully-perfection: finish a putback with authority! No more a tip-in, or a bank shot under the rim - dunk dunk dunk, my friend. Use your legs, make those legs work harder. You'll be soon in NBA, brother cuz. Remember I told ya about Grant?

Ian Emerson 7 years, 7 months ago

YESSSS PERRY AT THE 3! It's coming and next year we will have te best starting 5 in the country!!!!

Glen Miller 7 years, 7 months ago

Oubre will be at the 3 next year. I don't know why you people seem to think Ellis is going to the 3 spot next season. He isn't a quick enough defender right now to play the 3. I don't know that he could guard the perimeter like he would need to. He also needs to improve his shot consistency if he plays the 3. Tharpe - Selden - Oubre - Ellis - Embiid will be our starting 5 next season.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 7 months ago

I previously posted that Perry would play the 3 next year but the reality is that that's not his game. Ellis will have to hold off Cliff Alexander who will be fighting hard for playing time. Oubre will be at the wing and either Embiid (if he stays) or if we sign Myles Turner at the 5.

I don't know how next year's rotation will break down but some pretty good players will again be fighting to get minutes off the bench who would normally be starters on a Bill Self team.

I know that I've enjoyed seeing players grow into their positions but if were going after top 10 talent, I think it will change the dynamics of player development that we've seen in the past at KU.

Danny Hernandez 7 years, 7 months ago

Don't forget that Kelly Oubre will be at the 3 next year

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 7 months ago

It's really good to see Perry face up and shoot the jump shot with confidence. It will make him a much more dangerous weapon when he can shoot it with confidence even after a miss.

One thing he's tried to do too much of in two years here is drive, spin, twist, turn, and shoot a running hook shot. Against Baylor he was exposed because he wouldn't face up and shoot a jumper. And he was rejected time after time. I don't remember the Texas game, but it's likely that he relegated himself to a driving game then too, when we ended up with 8 shots rejected.

Perry has a really nice mid-range jumper that he has been reluctant to use, especially after he's already missed a shot or two on the day. And we see that his range goes beyond the three-point line, but I still doubt highly that we'll see that shot more than once or twice a week from him. I have no problem with that, but I want to see him turn all of 2-point land into his domain. He can take and hit any shot, any time from 20ft and in.

Greg Lux 7 years, 7 months ago

Kelly Oubre will be a freshman. Perry Ellis will be a Junior. I am betting on Ellis playing the 3. He has to because he has to show his speed, ball handling and range to get drafted higher. No matter how good Kelly is he will still be a freshman and freshman need to learn and develop. Playing behind Ellis and Selden will give him a chance to develop his college game easier.

Glen Miller 7 years, 7 months ago

Not going to happen. Oubre is too explosive of a scorer and his defense actually is farther along than most freshmen coming in. Everything I've read from Self points towards Oubre coming in and filling the spot vacated by Wiggins. THat's why they went after him and that's why he chose Kansas. Ellis will not be starting at the 3 next year, you can take that to the bank.

Reggie Flenory 7 years, 7 months ago

kellys defense is good coming out of high school but college ball is a different level U see freshman struggle often at Kansas defensively because the intensity in attention to detail is way higher at this level

Walter Bridges 7 years, 7 months ago

Oubre will start at the 3. Glen and others have convinced me that Ellis will not play the 3 and logically, it's just not Ellis's game. He is a post up player who is extending his range. That's a long way from playing at the wing.

Maybe Greene can challenge Oubre for the starting position at the 3 where the #29 rivals recruit was the sixth-ranked small forward nationally when recruited. I cannot see Coach Self not starting Ellis although the #3 recruit Cliff Alexander will certainly be cutting into Ellis and Traylor's minutes next year.

I don't want to get caught up on next year's team until the season is over but it will certainly be interesting to see how things will work out next year. There will certainly be some extreme competition.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 7 months ago

Embiid/Alexander, Ellis, Oubre, Selden, Tharpe. That will be the starting 5 next year. Perry Ellis doesn't have the athleticism to guard out on the perimeter. He already can't keep slower players in front of him, what's it going to be like if he's at the 3 trying to slow down 6-5 or 6-6 wings? Perry Ellis is a stretch 4 in college and in the pros.

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 7 months ago

It was so nice to see Perry pass the ball on Sat. He tends to have a bit of a one track mind when he has the ball. He's always looking to score. That's great and all, but he's become so much easier to scout. Opposing teams know that, while he has an abundance of post moves, he's going to try and get to the rim the majority of the time. Sat was the first time where I saw home routinely look for other options when he had the ball. If he can consistently look for open teammates while also relying on his deft post skills, his ceiling just got much higher. He will become even more of a matchup nightmare if opposing players can't just blanket him when he makes his move to the basket.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 7 months ago


1] Brianna and Suzi, are you two the only gals posting on this site?? Both of you post with passion and expertise.

2] If history as shown by Jamari serves as a barometer, Brannen will go off for about 15 against Texas Tech!! :).

3] I respectfully differ from what other posters have contention remains, if Jamari would have been available for the Kansas State game, we would have won!!

4] I would give anything to be a fly on the locker room wall at a KU seems in a vast majority of the times, a different team comes out and plays Bill Self Ball in the second half. I wonder if he has a witch doctor in there???? Second half KU 48 - TCU 25..what a beatdown.

5] I am now convinced that, "A", Perry Ellis will stay at KU for four years, "B", he will continue to grow and "C", he will graduate one of the all-time great players in KU history and "D", he will give one of the shortest Senior Speeches on record!!!

6] I would start Jo Jo but his limit his minutes by using a constant combination of Tarik, Jamari and Landon.

7] If nothing else, the TCU loss last year is a constant reminder that every opponent is dangerous and every away game is a mine field. NO LOOKING PAST TT!! Saturday will come soon enough.

8] The Mayor could send us all a late Valentine if ISU could take down the Horns!! If this happens and we take care of business against Tech and Texas, we're not only in the driver's seat, we're also riding shotgun!!!!!

Dirk Medema 7 years, 7 months ago

3] There are really people that think Jamari wasn't worth at least one extra point in a grinder game at the purple temple?

4] Definitely.

5] I'm betting on Perry finishing his degree in 3, and leaving as first team AAA - and avoids the Sr speech altogether.

6-8] Definitely.

RJ King 7 years, 7 months ago


1) There are a few of us out here, but some of us prefer to fly under the radar - or under the Avatar, as the case may be.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 7 months ago

A US Olympian and World Cup slalom champion once said that the secret to the fastest race isn't a result of the fewest mistakes, it is the result of the best recovery from your mistakes.

A game like ksu, and the other physical games (L's) earlier in the year is the basketball equivalent. Games like that won't get much in the textbook, perfect shot/play category, but will be won in scoring, rebounding, ... when things are imperfect.

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 7 months ago

Oak, 1) I appreciate the kind words, but I assure you, you throw the word "expertise" around a little too loosely when describing anything associated w myself. Also, I use my wife's fb account to post, so my real name is Tony, formerly known in the avatar world as ZIG. So I'm not a gal, though, I frequently sully my wife's name on here w reckless abandon. 5D) Hilariously correct! And someone might have to ask him a question to get anything out of him at all! Great kid. Fantastic ambassador for our program and the state of Kansas.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 7 months ago

As I found after apologizing for a sexist comment : )

Dave Weroha 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm glad to see Ellis have good games. However, history proves that it's not the forwards that get you deep - and even win it all - in the NCAAs, it's the guard play that is key. Look at every game where KU is bounced from the NCAA tourney and you will find that the forwards and centers played fine - it was point and shooting guards that failed KU in the critical moments. Therefore, KU's success this year will not be due to Wiggins/Ellis carrying the Jayhawks - it will actually be Seldon, Mason, and Tharpe. And unfortunately, unless I see a change in the current trend, KU's guard play as of today is average at best; not prescriptive enough to go deep in the NCAA tourney.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 7 months ago

If your theory is indeed correct.....YIKES!!!!!!!!!

Dirk Medema 7 years, 7 months ago

Wasn't it the VCU C (transferred from UNC?) that burned our the Morri? I don't remember their O game, but the D certainly wasn't there - IIRC.

What was the name of the Bradley C, that duped the NBA into believing based on his game against us?

Definitely agree that CBB is a much more G oriented game. It is also much higher probability that some undersized guy that got overlooked by big schools and went to a small school is going to go off - in general. History for this team would seem to indicate bangers in the paint might be our kryptonite.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 7 months ago

I am A (transferred from the alphabet) little bit unsure of what exactly you are talking about. I hope it's not low IQ.

Marcus Sommerville (Forward) was the star for Bradley but can any player really dupe the NBA by the performance in one G? Plus C has learned A lot since 2006

Is the CBB really a much more G oriented game? Is that in comparison to other sports or in the L? After watching the NBA AS G, I wonder if D is really valued at the next L. O certainly is.

If PITP is really our K then this year we should be almost immune as long as all our P players come ready to play. PINP has been one of KU's keys to winning this year as our 3 G has been erratic at best.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 7 months ago

Walter - Patrick O'Bryant was the C that was selected #9 based in large part on games against KU & Pitt. He had about 4 yrs in the league and never produced much of anything.

And yes, the college game is much more guard oriented b/c the NBA takes big guys sooner, hence players like Patrick O'Bryant, who can contribute in college take a few $M to collect dust in the NBA or D-league.

Jamie Skeen was the 6-9 PF for VCU, not the center.

Our frontline/PITP is definitely our strength this year - when we have time and space to shoot. When teams bang us, the output falls off dramatically. It's a common theme with KSU, UT, SDSU, Florida, Villanova. Not sure about CU.

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 7 months ago

Beautiful work Dagger. I always appreciate you're incite and your perspective from the basketball industry.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 7 months ago

Traditional thought process for teams is that guard play gets a team past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, but post play is what gets teams to the final weekend of the tournament.

Tom Longhofer 7 years, 7 months ago

"Show me a straight-A student, a high school valedictorian, and I’ll show you a perfectionist."

I recently attended a high school graduation with 16 4.0 GPA valedictorians. The one who truly deserved to be the valedictorian is really getting cheated by the watering down of standards and grade inflation.

On a related note: While I was a KU, I really did my part to fight grade inflation and make my classmates' GPA's look better by comparison.

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