Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: Perry Ellis nowhere to be found on magazine’s preseason All-American list

The Wichita Eagle

Just refer to Perry Ellis as the Rodney Dangerfield of college basketball.

The guy gets no respect.

Pardon me, but wasn’t Ellis the best player on the Kansas Jayhawks last season? Before he suffered a late-season knee injury, wasn’t he playing as well as about anyone in the country? Isn’t he going into his senior season at KU with a chance to climb up the career scoring and rebounding charts to the point where . . . well, he could join some elite company.

Ellis needs 543 points in 2015-16 to join a group of 10 other Jayhawks with 1,700 or more career points. He needs 248 rebounds to join a group of 10 other Jayhawks with 800 or more career rebounds.

Can you guess how many former Kansas players have 1,700 points and 800 rebounds in their careers?

Not Wilt Chamberlain. Not Clyde Lovelette. Not Wayne Simien. Not Dave Robisch. Not Drew Gooden.

There are three: Danny Manning, Nick Collison and Raef LaFrentz.

Yet the 6-foot-8 Ellis, from Wichita Heights, was not named by The Sporting News to its preseason All-American team Monday. Not first team, not second team, not third team.

The only KU player to receive recognition was junior forward Wayne Selden, last seen in a college basketball game scoring no points, handing out no assists and grabbing one rebound during a 23-minute impression of a mannequin during a 78-65 loss in the NCAA Tournament in Omaha last March. Selden, like Wichita State senior point guard Fred VanVleet, was named to the preseason All-American second team.

The Shockers’ Ron Baker was a first-team choice while Oklahoma senior guard Buddy Hield, the player of the year in the Big 12 in 2014-15, was a third-team selection. Selden over Hield, too? Do the folks from The Sporting News watch college basketball?

Selden was a disappointment for the Jayhawks last season, no way around it. Considered a potential one-and-done prospect when he arrved in Lawrence for the 2013-14 season, the 6-5 Selden has not lived up to the hype.

Last season, he shot 38.2 percent from the field, averaged 9.4 points and 2.8 rebounds. That’s hardly the stuff All-Americans are made from.

Ellis, meanwhile, averaged 13.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

Ellis was not on any major watch lists last season. But during a 13-game stretch of important Big 12 games from Jan. 17 through Feb. 28, he averaged 17.4 points and 8.1 rebounds. Then he suffered a leg injury in the final regular-season game at West Virginia, missed two games and wasn’t the same when he returned for a semifinal game of the Big 12 tournament against Baylor.

In naming Selden to the preseason second team, The Sporting News cited his outstanding play in the World University Games during the summer.

In eight games, Selden averaged 19.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and shot a smidgen over 50 percent from the field. He was clearly the team’s best player and the kind of player coach Bill Self and KU fans hope they see a lot more of in 2015-16.

The more free-flowing international rules seemed to fit Selden. He always plays without inhibition, but in South Korea he appeared to be even more unrestrained.

Ellis, meanwhile, made just 36.3 percent of his shots in the World University Games while averaging 13.3 points and 6.5 rebounds. Selden was, far and away, KU’s best player.

It’s obvious The Sporting News is putting more stock into how Selden performed in eight games overseas than the publication is putting in two seasons of play during the college basketball season. That doesn’t seem like the best way to pick a preseason All-American team.

The Sporting News first team includes Baker, Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon, Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes, Iowa State’s Georges Niang and North Carolina’s Marcus Paige.

Ellis, of course, won’t express outrage at being left off the magazine’s list. He won’t blow up Twitter because that’s not his style.

But you have to wonder whether, in a private moment, he scratches his head and wonders about what he must have done wrong in the eyes of some of these prognosticators.

Ellis, being the class act he is, would be the first to congratulation Selden. There isn’t a mean, vindictive bone in Ellis’ body.

I would guess Ellis will use this snub as fuel, though. Perhaps a chip on his shoulder, although one he won’t wear on his sleeve.

If Selden has the kind of year that warrants being a second-team All-American, all the better for Kansas. Whether the Jayhawks can count on a season like that from Selden is anyone’s guess.

The more reliable bet is Ellis. He’s Mr. Steady, even if it gets him no respect.

Reach Bob Lutz at 316-268-6597 or blutz@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @boblutz.

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