Posts Tagged Perry Ellis

Perry Ellis and the NBA and Kesha

Posted on: April 10th, 2015 by jayhawktalk No Comments

A coach once told me, “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.” It makes sense, I suppose. Rarely does one’s basketball value simply stay at a perfect constant and, well, “practice makes perfect,” or whatever. But in economics, we learn about the principle of diminishing returns — adding more of one factor of production, while holding all others constant, will at some point yield lower returns. Age, for instance, creates such a diminishing return in basketball. Otherwise, MJ and Kobe would play until their deaths. Last, Kesha famously told us, “We R Who We R” [sic]. It’s close to Exodus 3:14 (I am who I am), but more fresh because it’s Kesha.

What does the coach, professor, and Kesha have to do with Perry Ellis’ value as a professional basketball prospect, you ask?

They all tell us he needs to declare for the NBA draft right now. Following his junior year.  And if I were him, I’d do it too.

Let’s take a look at the current state of the NBA draft.

There’s an adage that the NBA only drafts on “potential” these days. Crusty old KU fans in their bath robes reading the daily newspaper about Kelly Oubre going pro after his freshman season — when he only averaged 9 PPG — just doesn’t add up. Alas, he’s still a projected lottery pick. And it comes down to potential, right?

A look at how NBA teams approach a draft should include a review of risk tolerance. After all, teams generally get one shot (per round) at adding a new piece to the team. With the rookie wage scale in effect (contracts are more or less predetermined by draft slot), teams with a higher risk tolerance should take the “riskier” player because the contract will not impact the team’s bottom line. The contracts are short and team options do not need to be picked up if the pick doesn’t work out.

In other words, there’s little to no risk involved in taking a “risky” player, especially in the last half of the draft.

[I should stop and note that obviously GMs have lost their jobs over bad drafts. There's certainly risk associated with choosing the wrong guy in the first 10 picks. But for our purposes, we're not looking at the top 10 picks. Even the top 20 picks. We're looking at the bottom of the first round and into the second round (where contracts are not guaranteed at all)].

But what defines a risky player over a safe one? Is it age, intangibles, off-the-court issues, or measurables? It can be all of those things, but risk, at least to me, involves exposing yourself to the unknown. If you watch a player for three years in college do largely the same things, you have a pretty good idea of that player’s risk (and upside). On the other hand, if you watch a player for one year in college struggle at times, but show glimpses of all-world talent, that risk (and upside) is higher and more attractive for a later pick.

The unknown is intriguing. And it’s tempting. The known is boring.

Sure, some teams have lower risk tolerance, but they are rare. Teams that are already “built” may be looking for a program-type guy, a solid if unspectacular bench player, a reliable option that won’t rock the boat. Those teams are not very common, though. So we can expect that most teams are looking for upside, especially throughout the last half of the draft. The unknown is intriguing, after all.

Let’s bring this back to Perry Ellis.

Coach tells us if you’re not getting better you’re getting worse. I personally believe most scouts think Perry’s value to the NBA is already known. If he leaves now, he’ll likely be a second round pick. If he returns and plays at an all Big-12 level again (which is more or less a guarantee), he’ll still likely be a second round pick next year. As a result, his value is probably not getting better.

Kesha would say that he is who he is.

If Perry’s NBA draft value is not getting better, does that mean it’s getting worse? Maybe not in terms of draft slot – but in time value of money, one additional year as a professional, and one more year of learning and harnessing his craft in a way that will give him a lasting role in the pro ball and not as a college power forward? Yes. It will be getting worse.

As a result, Perry has hit a point of diminishing returns when it comes to his professional basketball value. Putting in more time and energy in college basketball will likely return less in the long run. Declaring for the NBA draft makes sense, even if it doesn’t work out in the NBA and he ends up playing professionally overseas for the next decade.

Just looking at the past two drafts, in 2013, 3 seniors were taken in the 1st round and 15 in the 2nd round. In 2014, 5 seniors were selected in the 1st round, and 12 in the second round. Even though it’s probably not fair, unless a senior is a late bloomer, he is most likely to be taken in the 2nd round. There are obviously tons of reasons for this, but one is certainly that the player’s value (and upside) is mostly known.

Perry may want a degree. He may want to chase a 4th Big 12 title ring and he may want to make a run in the NCAA tournament. He may want to go down as one of KU’s all time leading scorers. Hell, maybe he just loves college and doesn’t want to be a grownup yet. If any of those things are true, he’ll be back and it will make sense because that’s his personal motivation.

But if his motivation is a career in professional basketball, as a vast majority of high major basketball players generally is, he’ll be wise to look at the NBA draft this year and forgo his senior year at Kansas. After all, the clock has already started on his professional basketball career.

TiK ToK, if you will.


Photo Credit: CJOnline, Huffington Post

Episode 72 – Perry Dunks, Cliff, Big 12 Race, and CBS’ Sam Vecenie

Posted on: February 22nd, 2015 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Following an up and down week, the guys get back together to talk Perry Dunks, Cliff’s production, the Big 12 Race, Tourney Seeding, and a bunch of other nonsense, including what we think Perry should get for a tattoo. Also joined by CBS Sports’ Sam Vecenie, there is talk of Self’s usage of Cliff and Kelly and where KU fits on the national college basketball scene.

Come on in, grab a drink, and enjoy a little Jayhawk Talk Podcast.

REMINDER: The Jayhawk Talk Watch Party is THIS MONDAY, February 23 at Johnny’s P&L. We will have some free appetizers, drink specials, and giveaways. Come join us! The game starts at 8:00 and we’ll be there at 7:00. Rock Chalk!

Find the Podcast on iTunes HERE (please rate, review, and subscribe!)

Find the Podcast on Podbean HERE (non-Apple mobile devices)


KU – Michigan St. reaction

Posted on: November 14th, 2012 by jayhawktalk 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: The following comes from Jayhawk Talk contributor, and good friend, @HailToOldKU (give him a follow). Glad to welcome him back and look forward to his contributions over the course of the season.

Here’s the good news: it’s November. This loss really doesn’t count in the grand scheme of things. It’s not going to keep Kansas out of the NCAA Tournament. It won’t affect the Jayhawks’ run at a ninth consecutive conference title. It won’t matter, really, at all.

The bad news is that exposed a lot of holes in KU’s armor, confirming what most of us already suspected. This Kansas team, while talented and high on potential, is a flawed unit that’s not ready to compete with the best in the country.

The biggest hole Tuesday was the lack of production from Perry Ellis. Ellis was timid offensively and couldn’t hold his own on the defensive end. The latter issue we knew about. Ellis could stay for four years and I’d be willing to bet he would never be an all-conference defender. It’s not in his game.

But for Ellis to struggle like he did on the offensive end is a legitimate concern. He should and has feasted on the lower ranks of the college basketball world in the Jayhawks’ two exhibitions and season opener. You could make the argument he was Kansas’ best player in those games (although I’d have to give the nod to Ben McLemore). As soon as he faced top tier competition, though, Ellis completely vanished offensively, putting up just four points in 17 minutes and offering little on either side of the ball.

That’s an issue that can be solved, though. For one, Ellis has at least a few weeks before he’ll face that kind of frontcourt talent again. Colorado returns Andre Roberson, who’s a defensive stud, and Ellis will definitely be challenged when the Jayhawks visit Ohio State. That’s three weeks and five weeks away, though. Ellis is working with Bill Self. He will develop.

Self can also relegate Ellis to the bench. He’d provide great scoring punch as a sixth man, and there are options for the starting four that will likely be more steady. Jamari Traylor was impressive in relief. The statistics (six points, four rebounds) aren’t otherworldly, but if you watched the game, he just looked infinitely more comfortable. That’s no doubt a product of working against Thomas Robinson every day for a year in practice. Kevin Young can also start at the four. Young only played three minutes last night, he’s coming off an injury, but he’s a quality spark plug and Elijah Johnson’s on record as saying he hates not having Young out there.

The second concern for me was Jeff Withey’s total disappearance, and this sheds light on something I’ve been worried about since the offseason. Are we already seeing the effect that losing Danny Manning will have on the Jayhawks? This is an overreaction to a tiny sample size, but Kansas’ front court was seriously underwhelming for the first time in recent memory. It’s not fair to expect the same kind of jump from Withey as we’ve seen in the Morris twins and Cole Aldrich (and Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun and Darrell Arthur), but we Kansas fans have gotten spoiled. There was no ceiling to what Manning was able to do with a big man, and every guy I just mentioned both flourished and completely overachieved under Manning’s watch. Withey did as well, last year. If he’s not ready to be the focal point of Self’s high-low offense, and if Perry Ellis is struggling against top-flight competition, is it because the Jayhawks lost Manning? It’s too soon to say yes, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

There are issues in the backcourt as well. Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore and Travis Releford combined for just eight assists – the only eight assists Kansas had all night, which accounted for just 33 percent of their baskets – and had nine turnovers among them. To be totally fair, that’s not just on them. Watching the game last night it became apparent that the Jayhawks problems getting the ball into the paint are maybe as much a product of the posts failing to seal off their man as it is the guards making weak entry passes. But for those three guards – and Naadir Tharpe, who had zero assists and one turnover in his 13 minutes – to be so unsuccessful at distributing the ball and generating offense, is disheartening.

As much as I love Elijah Johnson (and it’s a lot) he’s not playing point guard. There was a moment last night when he jacked up a three from NBA range with 10 seconds on the shot clock, and it was like he reverted to what he was able to do last year. He can’t afford to be a gunner this year, not when he’s a senior and the primary ball handler. He needs to be aggressive, but in the form of getting into the paint and either drawing contact or finding an open teammate. Even though some fans couldn’t stand Tyshawn Taylor – they were crazy anyways – he’s exactly what the Jayhawks need right now. They need a point guard. And a four. And better production from the five.

But hey, here’s the good news: It’s November.

2012-2013 KU basketball preview and predictions

Posted on: November 12th, 2012 by jayhawktalk 1 Comment

Time for one of my favorite times of the year: way too early predictions! Yes, I’m one of those guys that likes to speak his mind on the team at the beginning of the season so that I can take credit (rare) for such brilliant foresight (or, you know, ignore that I wrote such a terrible prediction piece).

I wrote this piece on November 12, 2011 last year. In that piece, I predicted KU to be a #2 seed in North Carolina’s bracket. Nailed that one. Also predicted we win the league (shocker) and that we’d finally have some good luck in the tourney. In the interest of full disclosure, I also predicted Oklahoma State would be good and that we’d see a lot of Tharpe, so what the hell do I know.

I do think predictions will be much tougher this year. We had a pretty good idea what we had in last year’s group. We knew T-Rob was a beast. We knew Tyshawn had all the talent in the world if he could keep his head on straight. This year there are so many unknowns.

Can Withey function absent Thomas drawing all the defense’s attention? Can Elijah run the offense? How will the freshmen react to playing huge roles right away? There are a million questions.

That’s what makes the predictions for the season all the more fun. Here we go:

(1) Big 12 Champs. Listen, there are challengers once again. But there have been challengers each of the last 8 seasons. Baylor looks phenomenal on paper. K-State will actually be really good. Once again, I’m a fan of Oklahoma State’s team. Texas and West Virginia both look legitimate. But I’m not looking through crimson and blue glasses here. I will not bet against Bill Self. Make it nine straight.

(2) Freshmen will lead. I believe a freshman will lead the Jayhawks in scoring this year. I think it will likely be Perry Ellis early (non-conference) and Ben McLemore late (conference). Perry will be 2nd team Big 12 by the end of the year and Ben will be Newcomer of the Year. They’re two very different players though. Perry is so polished. Ben has the crazy high ceiling. They’re going to be a blast to watch.

(3) Withey. I think KU fans might be expecting a little too much from Jeff this year. I think he’ll have a great year, but he may not meet the expectations some appear to be setting for him. He is a preseason first team all Big 12 selection and probably deserves to be. He can average 12.5 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game and be the best player on this team. What he brings to the defensive end cannot be overlooked or replicated. He is a true rim protector and if he rebounds and plays efficiently on offense, he’ll be perfect for this team. And he will be defensive player of the year in the Big 12.

(4) Rotation. We know the starting 5, and I expect it to remain the same all season: Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore, Travis Releford, Perry Ellis, and Jeff Withey. I believe Kevin Young will be the first man off the bench and will average the most minutes outside the starters. Naadir Tharpe will likely be the first guard off the bench. That makes 7 and generally Self doesn’t go beyond an 8 man rotation. Traylor will certainly get minutes, and I think that leaves Andrew White III and Rio Adams somewhat on the outside in terms of playing time. I think they’ll both play roles, though. Just not regular rotation guys.

(5) Non-Conference Schedule. KU has a 13 game non-conference schedule with marquee games against Michigan State, Ohio State, and Colorado. There are certainly some potential losses in that bunch, and we all saw through the exhibition season that this team will struggle at times. The good news is that this team will improve with every week of practice and should be primed for a great conference season run. I predict the Jayhawks will be 12-1 when Big 12 play opens against Iowa State.

(6) Big 12 Season. I predict we’ll have 4 losses in Big 12 play and will once again win the regular season championship. The Big 12 is strange this year in that there are quite a few teams that are “good” but I’m not sure there are any “great” teams. But here’s the deal. KU has 18 conference games, 9 at home and 9 on the road. At worst, KU wins 8 games at home, and will likely win all 9. That leaves 9 road conference games of which the Jayhawks will be favored in at least 7. I believe 4 losses sounds about right. And it should be enough to at least grab a share of the Big 12, if not win it outright.

(7) Postseason. For all the math people out there, I have thus far predicted 5 losses in 31 tries, which would give the Jayhawks a 26-5 record going into the Big 12 tourney. I believe that will be good enough for a #2 seed in the Midwest bracket. It ought to also be enough to give the Jayhawks a great chance to make a run in the tourney. This is an Elite 8 caliber team and anything above that will be absolutely house money. If McLemore ends up reaching anywhere close to his ceiling, it could be a very special year.



(8) Defense. They Jayhawks will have the best defense in the nation when Withey is on the court. It may not be all that close. The only weak link is Ellis, but with Withey on his other side, the paint will be covered against most teams. This particular team seems far more advanced on the defensive end early in the season than on the offensive end. They’re only going to improve from here. As I mentioned in my last post, we’ll struggle to score at times this year, but we’ll always be in the game because of defense.

(9) Offensive strategy. The key to Bill Self’s offense is ball movement. When the ball is swinging and the offensive is going inside-out, there will always be a wide open jump shot available. The difference between this team and last year’s team will be whether we settle for that jump shot or attempt to feed the post. We don’t have a replacement for Thomas Robinson. It will have to be a combination of multiple guys that will all need to step up. I said before that I believe Perry could lead us in scoring early and Ben could lead late. Elijah will also be a big factor in scoring. Beyond that, I believe Kevin Young, Withey, and Releford will all be around that 7-13 point range every game. I think the offensive breakdown will actually mirror the 2008 championship team relatively closely, where a different guy will lead in scoring each game.

(10) Overview. As far as expectations, I am somewhat lower on this team than I was last year’s team. I think we’ll struggle at the point guard position and will routinely rely on jump shots. I think we’ll go through periods in games where we just can’t score. The good news is our defense will always keep us in games and Self will have the guys on the same page after the Christmas break.  This is definitely an Elite 8 caliber team with a whole lot of upside. It could be a fun run in 2013.

Enjoy the ride and rock chalk!


Reactions from KU-SEMO game

Posted on: November 10th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

This was an ugly game. In many ways, it was an extension of the exhibition season where we saw Kansas struggle to score, but still maintain a solid margin of victory thanks in large part to its defense.

Just no offense.

By now you’ve probably heard that KU went a paltry 2 for 21 from three point range on Friday night. The Jayhawks weren’t much better from two point range either. Really the only nice thing you can take away from the box score is a nice 86% from the free throw line (24 of 28). If we continue to shoot the ball like we did tonight, we’ll certainly need all the free throw help we can get.

As I watched the game, I scribbled down some notes that I thought I’d share in bullet form. Most of them apply to this game, but are longterm concerns and/or observations. Many will be a part of the season preview blog post forthcoming. For now, here’s some thoughts:

1. Feeding the post. An underrated skill of any guard (or any player, really) is his ability to feed the ball to the post. Feeding the post requires two things. First, the post needs to have position. Whether that’s position on his defender or relative position to the basket, he must have position. Our posts weren’t great at that tonight, but there were more times than not where position was obtained and our guards could not feed them. There were turnovers, batted balls, just all around ugliness. I’ll give some of the new guys a pass (get it, pass?), but I will not give a pass to the veterans. This will undoubtedly be something we work on a lot in practice. It’s a vital part of Self’s offense (and another reason we’ll miss Tyshawn more than people think). It will start with ball movement and spacing, both of which are easily correctable. We’ll get better.

2. Jeff’s offensive gameplan. For those expecting T-Rob numbers from Withey this year, you’re going to be disappointed. Granted, tonight he put up nearly exactly T-Rob’s averages last year in 17 and 12. I don’t think it will be a regular occurrence.  I love Jeff and I will sing his praises soon on defense, but his offensive game still needs some improvement. Just once, I’d love him to catch the ball on the block and without any hesitation, go up as strong as he can with it. Stop waiting for the double team. Attack. And if you get fouled, terrific. Just want to see a little more decisiveness in his offense.  Teams are going to double him all year. And when they do, he will do a good job of kicking the ball to the open man. But sometimes, he should beat the double teamer to the basket. Haven’t seen it yet.

3. Ben McLemore. Near the end of the first half I wrote down the following: “Impressed by Ben’s rebounding. Getting every ball that leaves the block. Attacking rebound at highest point, almost like a football wide receiver.” He went on to gobble up 12 total rebounds, tying him with Withey for the team lead. This is a slight indictment on Perry, but I do think there’s a legitimate chance that Ben is our second leading rebounder this year. His combination of quickness, hops, and instinct could make him one of the best rebounding guards we’ve ever had at Kansas. We’re going to need those boards this year, too.

4. Post defense. It is incredible how much different KU’s defense is when Withey is off the court. Teams are fearless driving into the paint. Posting up Perry Ellis or Jamari Traylor all of a sudden doesn’t sound like a bad idea because that big palm from the weak side isn’t there to scare you away. Just his presence on the court changes the opposing team’s demeanor. Tonight, he played well on defensive end. Perry Ellis, on the other hand, did not. He was getting pushed around by SEMO’s big guys. Doesn’t bode well for him when he has to play against some serious size. Hopefully Withey can stay on the court because I’m afraid Perry will need that weak side defensive threat more often than not.

5. Perry’s offense. My goodness is he fun to watch when he catches the ball anywhere inside  7 feet from the basket. I don’t have a “Next Level” stat here, but my eyes sure told me that he scored or got fouled on nearly every single one of those possessions. If he keeps that up, teams are going to have to devote some help defense, which should free up lanes for guards to penetrate or pass to the opposite post. Perry may end up being the best thing that’s happened to Withey’s offensive game since Robinson. Little side note: I do think it’d be interesting to see how Perry would do if we ran more isolation to him. Clear out some space and let the man go to work. Going to be fun to watch him this year.

6. Attack attack attack. I’m sick of hearing about how athletic Elijah and Ben and all the other guards are. Prove it. Use that athleticism and attack the basket with some fire. I know they have it in them because I have seen it in flashes. Elijah’s aggressiveness carried us all tournament last year. I want to see it again. Penetration by the guards opens up the entire offensive game plan. Frees up the post as defenders have to slide off. Frees up the wing as defenders shift to the paint. Creates mismatches. All predicated on dribble drive. Let’s see some. And that means you too, Ben. You had two sick moves to the basket tonight ending in points. Don’t stop.

7. Duke (Light). If we’re going to be a soft team this year, we better start making some of those three pointers. Hate to say it, but this looks on paper like somewhat of a jump shooting team. Until we get some of the interior post game in place, we’re going to settle for open jumpers. Like Duke, if they’re not falling, you’re going to see games like you did tonight. The difference between us and Duke, though, is that we can still win games ugly because we can guard. Still, we’re going to have to be able to knock down open shots at a much better rate than we saw tonight.

8. Rotation. Only one game into the season, and I think we’re starting to get a pretty good idea what the rotation is going to be. Withey, Ellis, Releford, McLemore, and Elijah starting. First guard off the bench is Tharpe and first big off the bench is Traylor (I think Young splits this role with Traylor when he is fully healthy). That’s eight deep. Don’t see Self going much further than that. I think Rio Adams and Andrew White will get some time, but probably not a lot this year. Wesley played some minutes, but those will be divided among Traylor and Young. It also seems that Peters and Lucas could both be in line for red shirts this season.

9. Andrew White III. While I just stated I don’t think he gets more than a handful of minutes this season, I do think he could be a valuable player off the bench when his number is called. My hope for him this year was to be a “better Conner Teahan.” By that I mean a sharp shooter that you can bring off the bench for instant offense, but will hopefully be less of a liability on the defensive side of the ball. I think he’ll eventually get there and could play a key role in a few victories this season (much like Conner did last season).

10. Finally, wow. These guys are going to be maddening to watch at times. They’re going to drive you straight to crazy town with their lack of discipline and youthful boneheadedness. But my goodness they’ll be fun to watch. Take comfort in knowing that today is the worst this team will ever be. They’re literally going to improve daily as they get more comfortable playing together and get a few more wrinkles added to Self’s playbook. Despite tonight’s troubles, I do believe the framework is there. With some more practice and continued familiarity with one another, these guys will start to reach some of their potential. Just hang in there, because I promise this won’t be the last game like this.

Rock Chalk!



A few words on Perry Ellis

Posted on: November 1st, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments
Self will continue to motivate Perry

It’s hard not to be excited this time of year. This is especially true given the unknowns surrounding this team (read: 9 freshmen). You can put 5 stars next to a recruit’s name and say he is the next big thing, but until you see it, it is wise to temper expectations.

This is why all eyes in Jayhawk nation were squarely planted on the freshmen in the Exhibition opener on Tuesday night. And, for the most part, they did not disappoint. In particular, one player stood out:

16 minutes. 15 points. 5-5 from the field. 5-7 from the line. 7 boards. 2 assists. 0 turnovers.

It should be stated that it is wise not to get super excited about a guy after one exhibition game. Perry Ellis was dominating ESU’s players just like he was back at Wichita Heights playing against far less superior talent. He’s used to that. It’s always been that way.

But come Big 12 play, that’s gonna change.

I think that’s why you could hear Self yelling at him during the game to be aggressive. And why he didn’t completely sing his praises in post game, even after what appeared to be a phenomenal box score. He knows what kind of defender awaits Perry. He wants him to get used to playing his butt off now against boys so it isn’t foreign to him when he plays against men.

Self stated in his post game comments that “if [Perry] can become aggressive as far as mindset, he could be a really good player really early in his career.”

I think this is going to be a common trend throughout Perry’s time here. He doesn’t need the Xs and Os as much as the other guys. He’s as polished a big man (for a freshman) as we have had at KU in a long time. His deficiency will be making sure he plays to his ceiling game in and game out.

And Self’s going to keep yelling at him until he gets there.

This is why you come to Kansas, especially if you’re a big man. Self will push you to your potential, design a game plan to make you successful, use strength and conditioning (Hudy) to make you a man, and eventually build you back up to be supremely confident in your game. You take care of you and he’ll get you where you want to go.

Perry will be an NBA player some day based solely on his talent. Whether he’s truly a special player, though?

That will be up to him.

Can’t wait to watch his progress as a Jayhawk.