KU BALLS is a museum, a celebration of the history of Kansas basketball, and not necessarily a place to go for in-depth analysis and insights – but I do have opinions. And, boy, was I wrong about Perry Ellis.
At the start of the 2014-2015 season I was expecting more from Ellis’ junior campaign, but I really didn’t see any progression from his sophomore year. He didn’t backslide statistically like Eric Chenowith did in his junior year, but there wasn’t a big uptick, either. In addition, the lack of apparent leadership, the workman-like approach, etc, didn’t help. I thought his “go to” spin move would be figured out at any minute, because, well, it was pretty evident it was coming when he drove into the lane.
And then the Big 12 stretch of the season started, and Perry’s contributions to the team began increasing. Maybe it was Cliff Alexander’s NCAA issues and a need for the KU big men to contribute more, maybe it was Perry’s confidence & sense of urgency growing – whatever it was, it was clear that Perry stepped up his play. Unfortunately at the tail end of the season, Perry hurt his knee and was slowed down, and the postseason ended in relative disappointment.
The 2015-2016 season definitely placed high expectations on the team, but these expectations were fueled in large part due to the excitement around incoming big men Diallo and Bragg and how Selden performed at the World University Games in Korea. Ellis? Yeah, he would contribute, too, but how far we would go in the 2016 NCAA Tournament would be dependent on the freshmen’s progress and Selden’s maintaining a high level of play.
And then, well, you know the rest – Perry brushed aside the “old man” jokes and played like THE man. Midway through the season, I acknowledged I had been wrong about him – and happily so. Perry Ellis’ play this year vaulted him into the discussion of Best Jayhawks Of All-Time, and if he continues to play like he did against Maryland (other fun articles are here and here) and lead KU to a championship, well, like the title of this article indicates, he will officially be anointed a Kansas Legend.
No matter what happens next however, Perry Ellis has more than earned his inclusion at KU BALLS, and we are proud to hang his jersey alongside other Jayhawk greats.
Here’s to a tremendous, Kansas career, and to a great run the rest of the tournament!