LAWRENCE Kansas coach Bill Self has been recruiting Heights forward Perry Ellis for more than three years. On Wednesday, after Ellis faxed his national letter of intent to the KU basketball office, Self was finally able to talk publicly about the kid he's been eyeing as the prized recruit of this 2012 recruiting class since 2008.
Self took this opportunity to gush about Ellis, pointing out his 4.0 grade-point average and his time spent volunteering as a youth basketball instructor and at the Wichita Children's Home.
"He's so talented, and he's going to be great," Self said in a statement. "The fact that he has never made a 'B.' The fact he's competitive in the classroom. The fact he will be a great ambassador for our university and athletic program shows that he comes from great parents in Fonda and Will. We're really excited about having this family be a part of everything we do."
Self's glowing remarks about Ellis, a five-star recruit rated the No. 24 player nationally by Rivals.com, show just how much the Jayhawks needed Ellis to stay home in the Sunflower State as a Jayhawk. KU did not sign a five-star prospect in the 2011 class, and the best player that signed, shooting guard Ben McLemore of St. Louis, is academically ineligible to play this season.
It certainly does not sound as if Ellis' academics will be an issue. And on the court, his pedigree is spotless. Ellis is the three-time Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year, having led Heights to three straight Class 6A state championships.
"We've been excited about Perry Ellis for a long time," Self said. "We've been recruiting Perry pretty hard for a while. We felt like he was as important of a recruit as we have had since we've been here. You have to get your local guys, and certainly he has a chance to be in that same mold of a Wayne Simien-type guy. Fans are going to fall in love with him because he is so responsible and disciplined."
Ellis is a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward who can play on the wing or inside. Last season, he averaged 22.1 points and 7.9 rebounds at Heights. He'll be expected to contribute at KU from day one.
"He has progressed to the point to where he may play as much on the perimeter than on the inside for us," Self said. "He's going to be a three man. He has a very good skill set. He's an athlete. He can really, really run. He is so explosive and so strong now. I've seen him develop, and I think he's prepared to have an impactful freshman year because he's so versatile."