Freshman Perry Ellis stands out against Emporia State
- Oct. 30, 2012
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The stage wasn’t big, the opponent wasn’t of note and at end of the day, the game didn’t count.
However, freshman forward Perry Ellis managed to answer the question of who would be the one to step in and shoulder the majority of the team’s scoring in the front court, a role that was left wide open following the departure of All-American Thomas Robinson.
And Ellis did it by finishing the Jayhawks 88-54 victory against Emporia State a perfect five-for-five from the field.
“If he could just become aggressive as far as a mind set, not shooting the ball, but just a mind set, he’s so gifted offensively. It just comes so natural to him, that he could be a really good player early in his career,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
After a sluggish start, marred by turnovers at the hands of the many young players the Jayhawks utilized, the team quickly found themselves facing a six-point deficit with just under three minutes elapsed in the game.
Last year, the team would try to invigorate the offense by pounding the ball inside to Robinson in the post. This years’ team took a different approach. The Jayhawks started pulling up and shooting jump shots, sparked by back-to-back jumpers by Ellis.
His buckets brought the team back to life. And then they kicked it into high gear when senior guard Elijah Johnson and freshman guard Andrew White III knocked down 3-point shots on consecutive possessions which sent the Jayhawks on a 27-5 run and they never looked back.
But while they started shooting four-for-six from beyond the arc, they went cold and finished the first period by missing their last four 3-point attempts.
Such are the perils of relying on outside shooting to carry the offense.
“If we can just get a little more consistent inside scoring, that will bode well for us,” Self said. “But we can’t be a team that just falls in love with the jump shot. I’ve never played outside in, and I certainly don’t want to start now.”
Ellis provided steady play all across the hardwood, finishing the day leading the team with 15 points and added seven rebounds in just 16 minutes of work.
However, Self doesn’t think Ellis is reaching his potential on the court as he never had to play as hard in high school, where he was able to score easy baskets because he had considerably more talent than his opponents.
“Honestly, I feel like for him, he could even do better than that. And we all know that,” freshman forward Landen Lucas said. “I think Coach (Self) is always pushing him, and you see these numbers that he has now, but I feel like he can do better than that.”
Three other players, Johnson, White and freshman guard Ben McLemore joined Ellis by scoring in double digits with 12, 11 and 10 points respectively.
“If you sit back and look at the way they’re just so unselfish with the ball, it’s not about ‘me,’ it’s about ‘we’ with the Jayhawks,” Emporia State coach Shaun Vandiver said.
But the night belonged to Ellis, the in-state recruit that Kansas fans have heard so much about as he lead his high school team, Wichita Heights, to four consecutive class 6-A state titles.
As the season progresses, and he becomes more comfortable in the system, Ellis will continue to carve out a larger role in the Jayhawk offense.
“I just feel like he’s trying to find his groove,” freshman guard Anrio Adams said. “He’s quiet and silent. We’re just trying to get him to play a lot more aggressive. And I think the time’s going to come at the right time, he’s just got to catch flow.”