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Top 30 Seasons Under Bill Self: #11 Perry Ellis 2016

Mr. damn consistent. By PRPG, Ellis has 3 of the top 30 seasons since 2008. In his final three years in Lawrence, he averaged between 13.5 and 16.9 ppg, 5.8 and 6.9 rpg, and 1 and 1.3 assists per game. He also did it while shooting basically the same percentage in his sophomore and senior year. In his senior season, he scored in double figures every game but three and never scored more than 27.

He also was dependable in another area: he never ever turned it over. His 11.8 percent turnover rate as a senior is second lowest of any Jayhawk since 08 with a usage rate of 20 percent or higher. The lowest? Perry Ellis in his sophomore season. The ability to shoulder a huge offensive load while not wasting possessions via turnover is unprecedented for a go-to guy under Self, and it helped KU’s turnover rate hover right around the national average that season.

A big key to Ellis’s huge 2016 season was the addition of the 3-point shot. He upped his 3-point attempts from 46 as a junior to 64 as a senior, and made almost 44% of those threes. With Landen Lucas establishing himself as a defensive force in the middle who took up a ton of space under the rim on offense, Ellis needed to diversify his game a bit and did so via the 3-pointer. He also established himself as a bit of a playmaker, ranking 4th in the Big 12 in assist rate among players standing 6-8 or taller.

Defensively, Ellis also turned himself into a capable defender. Coming into his Kansas career, I was worried about that side of the ball due to his lack of explosive athleticism, but became a good defender over the course of his career by making improvements in those areas, as well as using perhaps the most important organ in one’s defensive arsenal: his brain. Ellis was the vocal captain of that defense, and opposing coaches raved about his smarts and his ability to understand the other team’s play better than they did.

In 2016, Ellis ended up ranked 2nd in the Big 12 in box plus minus, and was the go to offensive threat on the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament (who would have won the title if not for some bad foul calls against Devonte Graham but that’s another post), and cemented his place in KU lore. His biggest mark against him is that he was more of a consistent guy and didn’t have the ceiling of some other KU players, but he ranks 7th in PRPG and 17th in Box Plus minus since 2008. Not the highest of highs, but still an elite talent.

The main knock against him, and why he could be a bit lower, is compared to some other elite KU talents, Ellis was relatively easy to take out of the game when the opposing team focused on doing so. Naturally that opens things up for his teammates, and Ellis was almost impossible to stop 1 on 1, so it required sending multiple defenders at him to do so, but the fact remains if teams wanted to, they could concentrate their defensive efforts on Ellis and neutralize him. Consider the 2006 Elite 8, when Villanova’s mission was to shut Ellis down and Ellis scored 4 points on just 1-5 shooting. Still, that certainly opened things up for Frank Mason, Devonte Graham and Wayne Selden, so Ellis isn’t shouldering all the blame for KU’s poor offensive performance that day, but that sort of performance is why Ellis’s ceiling is a bit lower than some other KU greats.

Still, the consistency game after game, the diverse offensive package, and the ability to defend makes him a very good player, and one that belongs just outside the top 10 individual seasons under Bill Self.

Previous:

12. Dedric Lawson 2019

13. Jeff Withey 2012

14. Tyshawn Taylor 2012

15. Brandon Rush 2008

16. Joel Embiid 2014

17. Sherron Collins 2010

18. Darrell Arthur 2008

19. Cole Aldrich 2010

20. Ben McLemore 2013

21. Markieff Morris 2011

22. Andrew Wiggins 2014

23. Jeff Withey 2013

24. Josh Jackson 2017

25. Marcus Garrett 2020

26. Travis Releford 2013

27. Perry Ellis 2015

28. Udoka Azubuike 2018

29. Wayne Simien 2004

30. Devonte Graham 2017

31. Malik Newman 2018

32. Wayne Selden 2016

33. Keith Langford 2004

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