Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander work out for NBA personnel at D-League Elite Mini Camp
Frank Mason III and Svi Mykhailiuk weren’t the only former Kansas players hoping to impress NBA decision-makers in Chicago this week.
Although their draft days came and went without the results for which they hoped, former KU forwards Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander continued pursuing their professional objectives the past couple of days at the 2017 NBA Development League Elite Mini Camp.
After going un-drafted in 2016, Sunflower State native Ellis relocated to North Carolina, where he played in 50 games for the D-League’s Greensboro Swarm. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 9.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 22.4 minutes a game. He shot 45.1% from the floor and hit 41 of 109 3-pointers (37.6%), while garnering enough interest with his offensive game to nab an invite to the minor league’s offseason showcase.
The D-League camp setup mirrored that of the draft combine, with body measurements, athletic tests and scrimmages. The 23-year-old Ellis measured 6-8 in shoes, at 221.4 pounds, with an 8-7.5 reach and 6-10.5 wingspan. The former KU standout displayed a 31.5-inch no-step vertical and 36-inch maximum vertical.
Mike Schmitz, who covered the D-League elite event for DraftExpress.com, reported Ellis’ measurements have been in that range since he was a 16-year-old prospect in Wichita.
“With that said, Ellis was excellent on the floor all camp long, scoring at least 17 points in all four games (20 and 25, respectively, Tuesday) on efficient shooting,” Schmitz wrote. “His footwork, ability to create with spin moves and straight-line drives from the perimeter, touch around the rim and improved 3-point shooting were evident in Chicago.”
Overall, Schmitz assessed Ellis helped his NBA prospects at the camp after a “fairly average rookie year” and compared him to Detroit’s Tobias Harris, as an undersized 4-man who can score.
In Ellis’ first scrimmage, he led his team with 18 points, shot 8-for-11 and made one of two 3-pointers. He was one of two players on the team without a turnover.
During his next outing, Ellis went 2-for-4 on 3-pointers and 6-for-12 overall, while putting up 17 points and five boards (three offensive).
As referenced at DraftExpress, Ellis really took of on Day 2, when he first connected on nine of 15 shots and four of six 3-pointers en route to 25 points — the most by any player in any of the eight games — and four rebounds.
Ellis closed out the scrimmage portion of the D-League camp once again leading his group in scoring, with 20 points, on 7-of-10 shooting, while collecting just one rebound.
Un-drafted in 2015, Alexander, still just 21 years old, played for both Erie and Long Island in the D-League over the past several months. Between his two stops, he played in 40 games, averaging 15.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks, while converting 51.7% of his shot attempts.
In his hometown of Chicago this week, Alexander measured 6-8.5 in shoes, with a 9-1 reach and 7-3.5 wingspan, and weighed 247.6 pounds. His no-step vertical leap reached 30.5 inches and he had a max vert of 37 inches.
Schmitz reported Alexander, whose 9-1 reach ranked second among the prospects, didn’t play in Tuesday scrimmages due to an injury.
“Measurements have never been Alexander's problem,” Schmitz wrote at DraftExpress, “… he'll have to play with a consistent motor and strong enough mentality to work his way back into the NBA. He posted the second-worst lane agility score at the camp, which doesn't bode well for his switch-ability at the NBA level, but isn't a deal-breaker, either.”
Alexander, who teamed with Ellis, shot 6-for-9 from the floor on his way to 13 points, and added a team-best eight rebounds in his first scrimmage appearance.
The big man was even more efficient scoring inside in his next showing, going 7-for-8, with 16 points and five rebounds.
Both Ellis and Alexander, like the 36 other players attending the mini camp, are unrestricted free agents, able to sign with any NBA team interested in them this offseason. As their former KU teammate Wayne Selden Jr. already has proven, playing in the D-League isn’t a death sentence for one’s NBA ambitions.