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Decision Day: Perry Ellis, Wichita's most high-profile basketball recruit in years, will announce his college choice

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Sep. 20, 2011, at 8:45 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Sep. 22, 2011, at 10:14 a.m.

Perry Ellis might play college basketball in his home state. Or wear a letter jacket with a K on it. He might follow in the footsteps of past Heights greats. Or deck his family out in Wildcats gear. Or he might buy lots of blue. He could choose to play for a school with a recent national tournament championship.

Everybody has a guess. Everybody has a reason to choose a school. Today, we find out what Ellis thinks when he chooses from Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky and Wichita State. He will announce his decision at a news conference at 2:45 p.m. today in the Heights gymnasium.

It's such an event, Heights athletic director Rick Wheeler sent out an e-mail with parking instructions for satellite TV trucks and reminding the media they must clear out by 3:15 for volleyball practice.

Media and family only. No members of the public allowed. Ellis will answer questions for 10 minutes.

Then, the biggest question in Kansas high school sports will be answered — Where does Perry go?

* Kansas, which rarely loses recruiting battles in its own state.

* Kansas State, which is enjoying a renaissance nationally under coach Frank Martin.

* Kentucky, which also rarely loses recruiting battles.

* Wichita State, the hometown favorite and program improving each season under coach Gregg Marshall.

The favorite appears to Kansas, for all the obvious reasons.

"My guess would be Kansas," said Evan Daniels, national recruiting analyst for Scout.com. "They've been there from Day One, and they've had him on campus a number of times."

ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep didn't want to guess, saying no choice would surprise him. Eric Bossi, national analyst for Rivals.com, also goes with Kansas.

"If you have to pick a favorite, Kansas has to be the favorite," he said. "There's been lots of Perry coverage, but not much from Perry. He's been pretty quiet. When everything gets played close to the vest, you go with actions and actions would suggest he's made more visits to Kansas."

Nobody, or at least nobody who is talking, knows for sure until today. Because Ellis hasn't indicated one school as a leader, everybody appears to have a chance. Coaches spent Monday and Tuesday making their final pitches to Ellis.

Kansas isn't the only school invested in Ellis. He picked his final four based on four years of visits, conversations, observations and games.

"All four of these schools have done a lot of work with him," Daniels said.

Those four coaches outlasted programs such as Duke, Memphis and Oklahoma because of their relationship with Ellis and his comfort level with them and their schools.

"You can never rule Kentucky out," Bossi said. "But my suspicion all along, and that of coaches who have recruited him all along, is that he's not likely to go too far from home. If there's one coach that can get it done, it would be John Calipari. He's gotten the No. 1 recruiting class three years in a row."

Bossi said he has seen Kansas State coaches at every Ellis summer game.

"Kansas State has put every bit as much effort into making the allowable contacts," Bossi said. "So has Wichita State."

Few people, outside optimistic Shocker fans, expect Ellis to pick WSU. That decision would cause an uproar throughout college basketball and, perhaps, change perceptions about the program just as the signing of McDonald's All-Americans Antoine Carr, Aubrey Sherrod and Greg Dreiling did in the early 1980s.

"I would be pretty shocked if they were able to get him," Daniels said.

Ellis, a 6-foot-8 forward at Heights, is No. 24 in the Rivals.com rankings for the class of 2012 and No. 37 in ESPNU's national list. He is the school's career rebound leader with 753 and second (behind Sherrod) with 1,585 points. He averaged 22.1 points and 7.9 rebounds as a junior, leading the Falcons to a third straight Class 6A title.

What position does he play in college? The analysts call him a power forward, one that isn't limited to scoring in the lane. They do not consider him the type of talent who can go to the NBA after one college season.

"I think Perry is a versatile power forward who can finishes really well around the basket," Telep said. "He is a reliable mid-range shooter."

Ellis' quiet attitude during his recruitment is much like his style of play. He is not one for theatrics or woofing on the court. Off the court, he and his family and coaches didn't allow the recruiting to turn into a circus, or inflate his ego.

"I see Perry as a ready-to-play, productive, college player," Bossi said. "He's conducted himself well and dealt with being in a fish bowl. I think it says an awful lot about him and the type of person he is, and it says a lot of good things."

Ellis plans to sign a national letter of intent during the signing period Nov. 9-16. He will make an official visit to the school he selects after the announcement.

Reach Paul Suellentrop at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com.

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