Sunday, June 7, 2015


Column: KU’s Ellis has shot at history, records

Kansas forward Perry Ellis.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis.


Ever the student of Kansas University basketball history and the lead teacher of the school’s basketball team, Bill Self rattled off what Perry Ellis’ decision to return for his senior year could mean for the versatile power forward’s standing in school history.

“He has a chance to be a top-10 scorer, and I’d assume high in the rebound ranks,” Self said the night of the annual banquet. “He will be at least a two-time, first-team all-league player. He is going to graduate.”

Self kept going.

“Who knows if he can make an All-American team, maybe even get his jersey hung up there (from Allen Fieldhouse rafters) if that’s the case,” Self said. “There’s still a lot to play for.”

For one thing, Ellis hasn’t tasted a Final Four. The four-time Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year was winning his fourth consecutive 6A state title for Wichita Heights when the Jayhawks stormed from behind to defeat Ohio State, 64-62, and then lost to Kentucky, 67-59, in New Orleans.

Ellis is a rarity in that he’s a McDonald’s All-American who both did not in any way disappoint the school that recruited him and stayed around for his senior season.

Ellis, guards Yogi Ferrell of Indiana, Buddy Hield of Oklahoma and North Carolina's Marcus Paige all make strong candidates for the Senior Class Award given annually. It might come as a surprise to now-Tennessee coach Rick Barnes if the Kansas forward wins it. Barnes has seen so much of Ellis’ fancy footwork that after the forward dumped 28 points and 13 rebounds on the Longhorns, the coach repeatedly pointed to him as an example of what a senior can do for you.

That ended a three-game tear in which Ellis averaged 25 points. It came the game before Ellis suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss two games and play at a diminished level for the remainder of the season.

Ellis averaged 13.8 points and 6.9 rebounds as a junior. Provided Kansas can make it to the national-title game, Ellis won’t need to improve those numbers by much in order to crack the top 10 in KU’s career totals in points and rebounds. If he played 40 games and averaged 15 points, Ellis would finish with 1,757 points, pushing Kirk Hirich (1,753) into 11th on the all-time scoring list. An average of six boards a game would give him 852, knocking Scot Pollard (850) out of 10th place.

Getting to the Final Four would mean more to him, of course, but joining Danny Manning, Raef LaFrentz and Nick Collison as the only Jayhawks ranking in the top 10 in scoring and rebounding wouldn’t be too shabby, either.


Rodney Crain 6 years, 11 months ago

If Ellis can play the season at the elevated level he achieved for the handful of games before the injury his senior year it can be very special. That dominance would put him in every discussion for POY, AA on every level next year.

He has always been a very nice player and mature young man who quietly goes about his business. His senior night will be something as well. Talk about doing it the right way.

Bryce Landon 6 years, 11 months ago

Ellis has the potential to have a great senior year; but for that to happen, he has to change some things about his game.

For one thing, his defense needs improvement. How many times has he been burned in the post by opposing guards blowing by him or forwards muscling it in over him? For another thing, his offense needs work. Instead of trying to finger-roll it in there, he needs to dunk that sucker in there! He needs to stop trying to get cute from three-point territory and play inside. When he gets double- or triple-teamed, he needs to find an open man to pass it to instead of panicking and throwing it up for grabs.

To make these things happen, he needs to be in the weight room with Andrea Hudy as much as possible, building up his muscles and gaining weight so that he can be the force to be reckoned with that he needs to be in order for Kansas to emerge from the mediocrity its been mired in the past two seasons.

Joe Joseph 6 years, 11 months ago

People need to stop expecting Perry to be something he's not and never will be.

Perry doesn't have the physique, the length, or the raw athleticism to dunk on people and dominate in the paint. He's not a back-to-the-basket type of player. He won't ever be that type of player due to genetics.

He IS a finesse player, who's most effective when facing up and able to take slower, bigger guys off the dribble. Perry started playing his best last season when Self finally allowed Perry to be Perry and stopped forcing him to play on the block with his back to the basket. Very few collegiate 4s can guard Perry on the perimeter.

Perry only shot 46 threes this past season, but shot a very respectable 39.1% from three (18 makes). And while he didn't shoot a high enough quantity to qualify for the leader board, that percentage would have put him at fifth best in the conference. FIFTH. By all means Perry should have shot MORE three pointers. But, alas, the three point line is, apparently, "fools gold." Please.

Perry is a stud when he gets to be Perry. Hopefully HCBS won't screw that up next season.

Shannon Gustafson 6 years, 11 months ago

I was going to say something similar but you nailed it. It would be nice if he could improve his defense some but offensively, he is what he is and it's not going to change much, other than improving what he already does.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 11 months ago

I think this is a year where we could see Perry in the 17 and 8 range this year. He's not a great player, but he is a very good player who is usually very consistent. He's never going to be an elite defender because he lacks the strength to guard post players and lacks the quickness to stay with guards and wings on the perimeter. He'll need the right situation to stick in the NBA, but overall he could a great European player like Keith Langford became.

On the court this year, I'd love to see Perry shoot 2-3 3 pointers per game from the top of the key and more if he's making that shot a still not being guarded tightly. Perry being able to make the 3 consistently, especially if he's flanked by other 3 point shooters, will open up the post for the high-low to be as effective as possible.

Shannon Gustafson 6 years, 11 months ago

I've been waiting for a post player to come along that could consistently make the 3 from the top of the key on the secondary break like the Morris twins used to. TRob did it a bit but that was only when he was "feeling it". Perry has the skillset to do it, he's just got to be ready and the team has to look for it. He did it a few times last season in that situation.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 11 months ago

It's a good thing Self is the coach and not some commenters. Perry's game took off when Self tweaked the O in mid-Jan and had Perry become more of a creator on the perimeter, sort of along the line of what Hoiberg has done with Niang. There aren't many 4's in college that can defend well enough on the perimeter and still not be dominated inside. It will really be interesting to see what Perry can do handling the ball with that being a focus of this offseason development.

If he and Greene don't get hurt and Cliff a DNP there's a whole different outcome to the season likely. A lot like the year before when we lose a dominant center.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 11 months ago

What's the chance follows Cole an becomes the second A-POTY?

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 11 months ago

Oh gees how I am looking froward to this year's team led by Ellis. So many great things are possible and on the table grab. Ellis could have a "Sam Dekker" type year, which could land him on the AA team and his jersey in the rafters.

How cool would this year be if we can accomplish:

  1. Big 12 Championship - Number 12!!!!

  2. National Championship - or final four year...actually I'd be ecstatic with an elite 8.

  3. Ellis - All American, Jersey hung in rafters, finish in top 10 in both scoring and rebounding.

  4. Four first round NBA draft picks - Ellis, Mykailiuk, Selden, Diallo,

Notes: National Championships are great but the format to win one is akin to Russian Roulette. Winning the Big 12, which is attained over a grueling extended period should be the primary objective every year. I'd like to see Ellis nail the first possession of the first game and then keep it up the balance of the game...and season. Having numerous first round NBA picks, even a OAD, represents great individual success. We all go to school with the hopes to land a great job.

Dan Burns 6 years, 11 months ago

Love the optimism but I don't see Selden as a first rounder unless we see major changes in the coming season. Also, this will be a very important season for Svi but until he can deliver both inside and outside (like Oubre), I don't expect him to leave for another season. I'm hoping we see Svi handle the ball more, he showed amazing view of the entire court and made some great passes. Anyone heard if he has put on some weight since last season?

Titus Canby 6 years, 11 months ago

Has anyone ever noticed similarities between Danny Manning's and Perry Ellis' games? I'm not saying Ellis is as good as Manning, but he plays a very similar game. Quick release, great footwork, smart player, good team player. Ellis even has that little jab step and duck under move from 15' that Manning had. Remember how hard Larry Brown looked for a bruising center to take the pressure on Manning his senior year? Same with Self and Ellis this year.

I'm with Joe Joseph. If Perry's given a chance to be what he is, he'll have a great year. And I love to see another guy who puts the "student" (and "stud") in "student athlete."

Mick Allen 6 years, 11 months ago

Joe, Dirk and Titus, I think all 3 of you have correctly identified the strengths and weaknesses of Perry's game. I agree that he is more effective facing up from 15 feet out. He will beat the majority of 4s covering him off the bounce. After 3 years of watching him I feel I have a good idea of what he is and what he isn't as a player. For the reasons stated by nearly every one, he is not a back to the basket big man. He has good handles for a 4 and has always had a nice soft touch, even though his release starts from chest level. He is what he is and I am thrilled we have him for his senior year. If there is truth to the axiom that good things happen to good people he will have a banner year.

Walter Serafin 6 years, 11 months ago

Svi is just 18! He's not long for as tall as he is. To predict him as an NBA player in the next year is probably getting way ahead of yourself at this point.

He needs to fill out, play more, really find his place in the offense, and settle in. Does he have the potential? Yuppers!

But stop rushing these kids and setting them up for failure! The lure of big bucks playing in the NBA has destroyed many a young man's career!

I feel horrible for Cliff Alexander who's family let him down and may have ruined his shot at a real career in the NBA. I feel that the NCAA and NBA should align themselves to banish agent/swindlers like the one who cheated this poor kid and his family!

Further, I rethink it should be incumbent on the college programs signing these kids to have a "sit-down" with student athletes and their families to warn them about low life shysters like this crook who did this to Cliff Alexander!

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