Perry Ellis Continues To Impress On The Court
June 8, 2009 - Colorado Springs, Colo.
Looking at the bios of athletes that comprise the USA Basketball Men's Developmental National Team, it is perfectly normal to see players that have garnered all-region, all-state and even All-America honors. Yet among all the accolades that have been showered on this talented group, Perry Ellis achieved something in the 2008-09 season that no one else did.
As a freshman, Ellis was named the 2009 Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year, the first freshman in Kansas to ever receive the award. Normally reserved for upperclassmen, Ellis blazed a trail on his way to earning the highly coveted honor.
-I never thought they would give it to somebody so young because it's usually all older classes and older players," said Ellis. -I didn't think they would do that."
Ellis helped lead Wichita Heights High School to a 24-1 record, including a perfect 16-0 mark in the Greater Wichita Athletic League en route to the Kansas Class 6A State Tournament championship. Along the way, Ellis averaged 19.2 ppg. and 11.7 rpg., also being honored as a consensus all-state first team member. In the title game, he pulled down 20 rebounds and scored nine points, helping his school win its first championship since 1977.
On winning the state championship as just a freshman, Ellis simply says, -It felt good. I want some more."
Ellis has been a highly-touted prospect for a few years now, but he says his coaches did a good job of making sure the pressure didn't get to him before his freshman season started.
-At first I was nervous," said Ellis. -My coach told me that not all the pressure is on me. It's on the seniors, so that took a lot of pressure off me. I just played my game, and I helped them out a lot."
With such an impressive resume, Ellis has received a lot of attention from college coaches, scouts and the media. That can be draining for a 15-year-old.
-At first it was really stressful but now it's getting a little easier," Ellis says of all the attention. -It gets annoying at times, but I'm starting to get used to it."
Ellis comes by his ability naturally. His sister, Savannah, also plays basketball and will be a junior at Memphis this fall. That made for some interesting matchups when Perry and Savannah were growing up, and while Ellis says they stopped playing each other when Savannah reached high school, he remembers playing against her when they were both younger.
-When we were little we use to play each other. When I got older she didn't want to play me anymore. She must be scared now," Ellis laughed. -We always use to go at it and she would beat me. I would get really mad and we would push and shove each other."
With those backyard games with big sis, a 2009 Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year award and a state title now in the rearview mirror, Ellis is fully focused on the USA Developmental National Team. When the team arrived in Colorado Springs on Friday night, they were showed a video with highlights of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team and the '92 Dream Team. The video serves as a great reminder of the precedent for success set by previous USA Basketball teams. Ellis says he is proud of his selection, and he hopes to take advantage of the great opportunity.
-I felt good (being selected to the team). I never thought I would have the chance to do this. Like they said on the video they showed us, this is the chance to represent your country."
Even with all the success Ellis has had on the court, he said he realizes it's important to have a plan for life outside the game. He currently carries a 4.0 grade point average, which ranks first in his class.
-Everybody says it " the basketball is going to stop bouncing some day, so I'm going to have to have something else to do," said Ellis. -So I try to keep my grades up as a backup."