Did Perry Ellis exceed expectations in 2012-13?

If you watched a lot of NCAA Tournament games last year, you most likely heard the story of Butler graduate manager Drew Cannon.

In short, Cannon was put on Brad Stevens' staff as an advanced statistics expert, going through numbers to help Butler put its best lineup on the floor at all times.

Before Cannon was snatched up by one of the game's smartest coaches, though, he was guest-writing for, submitting blog posts last summer that gave statistical projections for the nation's top players.

He used different formulas for returners (taking into account past stats, basic demographics, team stats, high school rankings, mock draft projections and awards) and freshmen (basic statistical information along with a few other secret ingredients added in), but in essence, he gave us a baseline on what to expect statistically from individual players.

I want to use this blog post to evaluate KU freshman Perry Ellis' performance last year to see if he went above or below what was expected of him, but first, let's look at just how close Cannon was to projecting KU center Jeff Withey's actual performance.

Kansas center Jeff Withey puts up a shot over North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo in the first half on Sunday, March 24, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo..

Kansas center Jeff Withey puts up a shot over North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo in the first half on Sunday, March 24, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.. by Mike Yoder

Jeff Withey: Projection vs. Performance

Jeff Withey: Projection vs. Performance by Jesse Newell

No wonder Cannon is on Stevens' staff; it's almost like he had the answers to the test given to him beforehand. Cannon's projections almost are the exact replica of Withey's production at KU his senior year. Perhaps the only exceptions are that Withey fouled a touch less than expected and made a few more twos.

Still, it's amazing to think that a formula could so closely predict human performance.

Switching over to Ellis, let's take a look at his projections compared to his performance a year ago.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis comes in for a dunk against Iowa State during the first half of the semifinal round of the Big 12 tournament on Friday, March 15, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis comes in for a dunk against Iowa State during the first half of the semifinal round of the Big 12 tournament on Friday, March 15, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. by Nick Krug

Perry Ellis: Projection vs. Performance

Perry Ellis: Projection vs. Performance by Jesse Newell

Though Ellis' minutes were limited (he averaged 13.6 minutes per game), we can see from the numbers that he greatly exceeded Cannon's projections, especially on the offensive end. He averaged 1.14 points per possessions used while taking on a larger offensive load (ending 21.9 percent of KU's offensive possessions when he was on the floor) than expected.

Here are a few other positives from Ellis' numbers:

Turnovers: This is where Ellis overachieved most. He gave the ball away on just 10.7 percent of his ended possessions, and though it's often overlooked, that kind of ball security from a big man greatly enhances his offensive value. Ellis had just 20 turnovers in 503 minutes last season.

• Free throws: Ellis also helped his offensive output by getting to the free-throw line often (a 52.5 free-throw rate is a solid number) and making those shots once he was there (his 73.8-percent accuracy was nearly 10 percentage points better than his projection).

Defensive rebounding: Though KU coach Bill Self often pushed Ellis to be more aggressive, his defensive rebounding percentage ended up well above average. Ellis' 19.9-percent defensive rebounding percentage was second on the team behind Withey and much higher than his projected total of 16 percent.

If we're using the projections as a guide, here are two areas of improvement for Ellis in the offseason:

Kansas forward Perry Ellis gets up to block a shot by Baylor center Isaiah Austin during the first half on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis gets up to block a shot by Baylor center Isaiah Austin during the first half on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Overall defense: Ellis wasn't a disruptive defensive player last season. His block percentage was barely half of his projection (2.1 percent), while his steal percentage also wasn't as high as you'd expect for a player with his quickness (1.8 percent).

Two-point shooting: Ellis finished with below-projection two-point numbers despite an impressive end to the season. In his final seven games, Ellis was 30-for-46 on twos (65.2 percent), which lets you know just how much he struggled early. As an undersized 4, Ellis will have to continue his evolution offensively, learning how to create space and also avoid blocks against taller competition than he faced in high school.

The numbers above indicate that Ellis is ready to take the next step for KU in 2013-14. He's already a good offensive player — thanks to his low turnover count and ability to create and make free throws — and with some improvements defensively and on two-point jumpers, he could quickly turn into an all-conference-type player with an increase in playing time next season.

More from Jesse Newell

  • Here's what KU's 2013 recruiting class would have looked like in previous years
  • Seen it? The nation's reaction to top recruit Andrew Wiggins choosing Kansas
  • Here's what type of player KU is getting in Hunter Mickelson
  • Ranking the top 10 dunks of 2012-13
  • How a fingertip, a late rotation and a great player contributed to Michigan's frantic comeback over KU
  • ;


    pizzashuttle 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    I think we see a big jump in performance for Ellis this season. He won't have to think so much and will start the season much more confident. He also will play at a higher level to match the higher skill levels of the new players, Wiggins, Selden, Embiid, Black. Ellis will make a name for himself at the national level this season.


    Tom Richmond 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    The most favorable odds in Vegas are at the craps table not blackjack, provided you take the odds on each bet and do not take sucker bets e.g. Big 6 Big 8 etc.


    GrammarPolice 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Wonder what his predictions for EJ were and how that turned out?


    Hawk8086 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    I hope you are right about this team being a lock down defensive team. I agree that with the athletic ability, and, it appears, the right attitude from the young guys that we have the potential to develop into one. But, can the young guys learn quickly enough to achieve this? Will Embiid develop quickly enough to earn the minutes to help achieve this? If not, protecting the rim will be a weakness. Certainly, the future is bright and either way it will be fun watching this team develop.


    lv_jhwk 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    I think a lot of posters are confusing their own projections with the statistical ones. Many expected Perry to come in last year and immediately become a vital part of the rotation, and made their disappointment known when it took him some time to show signs of doing just that.

    I could be wrong, but the numbers Jesse gives from Drew Cannon predicted a slightly above average season for Perry as a freshman (a 100 rating being the norm). All in all, just about how his year did in fact wind up.


    Randy Maxwell 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    He did not exceed expectations ans no amount of stats will xhange that. You see observation overrides stats anyday. The games from mid year where he was a complete non factor are rhe answer.Did he come on late in the year? Absolutely. Did he perform fir the season as well as most expected? No. Not close. Is there reason to believe he will be a very solid but not special player for KU? You bet. But as for last year he under performed


    Greg Lux 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    The Question is WILL Perry exceed next years expectations? With all the recruits coming in and a guy named AW on board. What do you expect from Perry next year? My answer is: I expect Perry to be a very quick skilled player who compliments the other players with balance scoring because of his excellent scoring range. Perry has great speed and with the other members of the young team will excel at quickness and fast-break opportunities. I see next years team being extremely fast with exceptional range. Knowing HCBS it will be a lock down defensive team and Perry has shown his ability to block out and rebound. He will only be better this year. The future is bright and getting brighter. I understand AW will be here only one year, but the national attention he will garner will be extremely helpful in future recruiting. UK's time is limited once players see the difference between a school that only recruits and a school that recruits and coaches players making them better and giving them a better chance of a future in the NBA. The future is bright for KU, Perry and a whole team of talent we have not seen for a few years.

    Rock Chalk


    Kevin Huffman 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Most Dynamic Passer Josh Perkins (Aurora, Colo./Regis Jesuit) 2014, PG, 6-foot-3, 175 pounds Status: Took a visit to UCLA this weekend and has Kentucky, USC, UConn, and Syracuse getting seriously involved. Perkins is the hottest name on the west coast after an electrifying spring. The point guard can stroke the 3-point shot and easily blew by most defenders (with the exception of Mudiay) with his slick crossover. His passing is as high-level as is his vision, but he has a tendency to have a flair for the spectacular rather than execute the efficient play. Overall though, he is a major talent.

    ****Huh?!?!?! I knew of the UCLA interest as he had interest in New Mexico before Alford left for UCLA. But had NEVER heard of interest from ANY of the other four before. Yet the author makes NO mention of interest that had been ovious in the past from Kansas, Gonzaga or San Diego State. Nice!!!!

    ****This was on a write-up of some Pangos Camp out at Long Beach. The good news is in their list of schools for Rashad Vaughn we were listed 1st!! If they landed him or S. Johnson (mutual interest in player & univ. also expressed...though sounds like he's going to eliminate KU or Duke form his consideration), could be interesting in minutes breakdown if Selden weren't to be an OAD.

    I still think Jones & Okafor for the recruiting class for the '14/'15 season is a "pipe dream", but I'd be ecstatic if we could say land Perkins & Vaughn.

    Ideally, they land a PG that can be groomed to take over for Tharpe and yet still be with the team another 3-4 years down the road (why Perkins is a better fir than Jones, who COULD actually be an OAD). Then if you can't land a top 25 - 30 SG/SF to fill the departing spot of Wiggins, then effort should be made to find a big for the departing T. Black....of course, that could be less of a concern w/ Mickelson coming in the following season too though so.....

    Again, I'm STILL really hopeful on Josh Perkins......then one of Rashad Vaughn, S. Johnson, M. Pope, Leron Black, Ahmed Hill, Kelly Oubre, or Craig Victor

    Of course, I'd most want Justise Winslow (to me him & Perkins would be PERFECT fits), but he's seemed to have made no secret of his preference for EITHER Arizona or Duke.


    Kevin Huffman 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    While his turnover rate was low, he had an AWFUL LOT of times where he fumbled the ball but didn't turn it it back, but it disrupted the offensive flow.


    leonard 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Perry Ellis in 2013-2014?

    Easily 16ppg and 10 rebounds.


    jayhawker97 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    great article, Jesse. thanks for the insights. I wonder if minutes played taken into account in the formula. also, those two points, it would be nice if it's broken down to inside the charge circle. he surely missed a bunch of bunnies - something he's improved of late games, if i recall.


    jaybate 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    I am less interested in how accurate Drew Cannon was in predicting how Perry performed than in why my expectations (and so many others') for Perry were so much higher than Drew Cannon's were.

    Drew Cannon's realistic expectations were arrived at by analyzing data. It only makes sense that his expectations were reasonably accurate.

    But my too-high expectations for Perry Ellis were based almost entirely on views of Perry acquired through the filter of mainstream media.

    Put more succinctly, my too high expectations were triggered by media hype that I did not try to temper with empirical research.

    The reason this phenomenon interests me so much is that it feeds directly into a hypothesis of mine about the interplay between media hype and gambling.

    I have hypothesized for quite a few years now that the main stream media over-hypes certain teams and players and coaches in the big media markets, especially those on the eastern seaboard, while underhyping other teams, coaches and players. Further I have hypothesized that this hyping stimulates betting by loyal fans of these teams. But I have also suggested that the hyping not only stimulates bettors, but it also builds in a false, overly optimistic expectation in fans of these overhyped teams. In short, the hype makes more bettors bet and bet over optimistically on these teams.

    Jesse, this story of yours makes clear the awesome power of mainstream media to hype up unrealistic expectations that the gaming industry can then exploit.

    Drew Cannon was right to go to work for Butler. The media-gaming complex was probably never going to embrace and promote a statistician whose work would fundamentally dilute the hype effect, if his stories were widely disseminated.


    William Blake 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Perry exceeded my expectations all year... here is why...

    Perry was forced to make his points deep in the paint. That's a tough place for freshmen to have to earn their points. Perry had some tough luck early on in the season. Shots rimmed out most of the time. This tends to bring down players, especially freshmen, but Perry hung in there and turned the tide down the stretch.

    What can we expect from Perry this coming year?

    I'm sure he'll take off from where his momentum left him last year... but he can explode his stat line if he's allowed to play more of the offensive floor. Perry's midrange game may go nuts... especially when he's receiving assists from Andrew Wiggins.

    Andrew and Perry need to become good friends, because these two should spend plenty of time on the floor together dominating by assist/scoring plays in the post.

    These two are going to get fat feeding each other.


    Hawk8086 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    I believe that Perry exceeded expectations in the last part of the season. His production during this time, given the minutes he played, was fantastic. His quickness for his size, and shooting touch are unbelievable, I think. Also, although some have disagreed, I think his jumping ability is good. I'm very confident that he will continue to get better this year. Heck, if for no other reason, Self will have to allow him to play through his mistakes.


    Jack Jones 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Yes,yes,yes,no, yes,no,yes, yes, yes, no,yes.......


    Steve Gantz 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    The real question is did Jesse exceed expectations in 2012-2013?


    Chris Shaw 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Can we see EJ's projections? Let's correct that...please don't ever show EJ's projections because I don't won't to break my computer and ipad.


    Joseph Kuebel 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Embiid redshirt?!? No. Just no. White possibly, maybe even Greene although I don't expect it. I give Mason the most likely to redshirt.


    Joe Baker 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    I would like to see Tharpe's #s and if possible, the entire projections for the team or at least the starters and mabye 2-3 backups:

    Tharpe - Mason, RS, could bump Frankamp to backup PG Selden - Greene, the 2 will be a frosh either way or you could have White (speed?) at 2 Wiggins - White or Greene Ellis - Traylor, Greene will play some 4, unless Traylor works on his shot Lucas - Embiid

    White and maybe Mason RS

    Does anyone else see a RS? I guess it depends on who wins out during preseason. Greene is the most versatile with his size and skills. Most of all, his bball IQ is above normal.


    DCLawHawk 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Great article Jesse! I would love to read more along these lines. The retrospective on players over Self's first decade will be good too, but if you can generate more articles like this one I will read all of them.


    hailtoku 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Perry did not exceed expections for the 2012-2013 season.

    He exceeded expections in the 2012 Big 12 Tournament. That's all.


    CWGOKU 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Jesse Newell plays above the rim! Thanks


    Colby Hebert 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    I think Perry Ellis is a very intriguing and unique player. He has a face up / drive around you game, at the 4. I think it just took awhile to adjust his style to the college level. By the end of the year he was putting it all together. The sky is the limit for him I believe.

    Jesse, you cannot leave us to be a advanced statistics expert for any college program unless it is KU, ok? :)


    beaujvanbeek 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Fabulous article. Obviously it is your job to write these articles, but your level of analysis is amazing. You are definitely going above and beyond.


    Ralster Jayhawk 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Ask IowaState how they feel about Ben McLemore (Game 1, AFH). Elijah Johnson (Game 2, Hilton), and Perry Ellis (Game 3, BigXII SemiFinal). Fun stuff. As in dunk! Stuffage!


    thmdmph 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    It'd be interesting to see what the projections are for next year's crew. Wonder how Self's meeting with Wiggins about his summer schedules and his timing for coming to Lawrence played out.


    nuleafjhawk 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    I think expectations for this young man were exceedingly high last year. Sure, he was an awesome high school player, but we all know that the University of Kansas plays at a little different level.

    I liked him right away, and once the light bulb came on (as far as being more aggressive) we saw the guy on the court that some thought we would see from day one. I was always glad when Perry was in the game. I felt confident that he would play well, and if nothing else, not give the game away with mental errors. I could not say that about everyone on the team last year. Even guys with much more experience. But enough of that.

    Yes, he definitely exceeded my expectations last year. I expect him to exceed them again this year.


    jhawkrulz 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    I meant to note, this was very helpful, but a few things that would have made it even more valuable is if we had an average for that position, a range for that position. I looked at the 10.7 and didn't know whether that was bad or good. You explained it was good. However, if I had some note that said for 4s 9.3-12.2 was the percentage, but 11.1 was the average, it would mean more.


    jhawkrulz 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    How about all the starters?

    And next year...Selden and Wiggins. Those would be interesting before and after...although that could say whether or not Self is doing what is expected, better, or worse for his OAD.


    Chris Bailey 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Perry did a great job last year. I was impressed with him more and more as the season progressed. I think he will improve quite a bit this season and by the time he's a senior he will be an all-american and own many of KU's records. Yes I said senior. I don't think he will leave early. How fitting a kid from Kansas ends up writing the record books. Rock Chalk Perry Ellis!


    GabrielMichael 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    I'm curious what the projections are for next year...


    clevelandjayhawker 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Did Perry Ellis exceed expectations in 2012-13?

    Nov: Yes

    Dec and Jan: No

    Feb and March: Yes


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