A (way too) early look at the 2017-18 Kansas Jayhawks basketball team
Perry Ellis’ stellar performance at last month’s NBA Development League minicamp in Chicago has caught the attention of both scouts and front-office personnel.
“My agent told me it boosted me, helped me a lot. I played so well there,” said Ellis.
The 6-foot-7 former Kansas forward from Wichita was invited to work out for the Sacramento Kings on May 24 and the Minnesota Timberwolves this coming Wednesday in response to his leading the 40-player camp in scoring — 20 points per game across four games.
Ellis, who hit four threes in six tries and scored 25 points in one of the games — averaged 9.7 points per game in 50 games for the Greensboro (N.C.) Swarm of the NBA D-League in 2016-17, his first season as a pro.
“Perry certainly made the most of this opportunity as he showcased his skill set on a pretty big stage,” wrote Jerry Stephens of swarmandstingcom. “If Perry continues to play like he did during the elite minicamp, he should expect a call-up to the NBA. It’s pretty surprising that he was able to outperform every other prospect, but Ellis was able to help make an even bigger name for himself,” Stephens added.
The Charlotte Hornets, the NBA affiliate of the Swarm, also have been keeping track of Ellis’ progress. The team’s official Twitter account wrote: “Perry Ellis shined at the nbadleague Elite minicamp, leading his team in scoring in three of four games and notching 25 points in one matchup.”
Ellis says he’s concluded his best chance of landing a spot on an NBA roster may rest on increased offensive productivity — the type he showed at the D-League minicamp.
“I started figuring it out to where you’ve just got to shoot the ball. You’ve got to attack, shoot the ball and not worry about anything,” said Ellis. He scored 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting in Thursday’s Rock Chalk Roundball Classic KU alumni game in Lawrence.
“I learned in the league it’s better to go 2 for 10 than 1 for 3. You’ve got to at least try. I started really focusing on trying to do my best, trying to make shots.”
Ellis hopes to finalize a deal to play summer league basketball with an NBA team in the next couple weeks. It’ll be up to that yet-to-be-determined squad to sign him to a guaranteed deal or allow Ellis to head to Australia where he’s inked a one-year deal with the Sydney Kings.
“I think it’s kind of a cool situation, honestly, to have another plan, have something there just in case. They are great people,” Ellis said of Sydney Kings officials. “They know what my dreams are. They’d love to have me also. That’s kind of how that worked out.”
Former KU guard Russell Robinson, who has played in Poland, Greece, Lebanon, France, Turkey and Spain since leaving Kansas in 2008, sought out Ellis at the Roundball Classic to give him some good news about Australia.
“I told Perry to get prepared. He might not come back. Everybody I know who has played in Australia, they love it and don’t come back,” Robinson said. “It’s not only about money but the lifestyle and people over there are extremely nice. It’ll be a great experience for him in his journey. It’s going to be a positive one,” Robinson added.
Ellis has never been to Australia.
“I heard it’s beautiful. I heard it’s a cool place,” said Ellis, admitting it’s been tough adjusting to his new status as a former KU player. He scored nine points on 4-of-4 shooting in the KU alumni team’s 82-75 loss to the current Jayhawks at Wednesday’s Bill Self campers game.
“It seems like just yesterday I was here,” Ellis said. “It’s fun, but it seems like I’m still supposed to be playing with them. I’m the alumni now.”
He’s a 23-year-old athlete who feels as if he’s in the best shape of his life.
Ellis is completely recovered from the sports hernia that pretty much spoiled any chance he had of earning a roster spot with the Charlotte Hornets last preseason. He played in just one preseason game with the Hornets after playing sparingly for the Dallas Mavericks’ summer league team (12.4 minutes a game in five games).
“It’s all a process,” Ellis said. “The injury happened. You can’t control that sometimes. It slowed it up a bit. I’ll keep working and see what the summer has for me.”
Ellis, who was not selected in the 2016 NBA Draft despite his status as one of the best players in college basketball, is hopeful that former Kansas guard Frank Mason, consensus national player of the year, will be taken in the June 22 NBA Draft.
“Seeing him traveling all over, workout after workout, it’s the same way I was,” Ellis said of Mason. “A lot of teams want to see you. I heard teams even want to bring him back for another workout. That’s a lot. It seems he’s enjoying it. With his personality, I feel he’ll be all right.”
Ellis is willing to work out for any NBA team, any time.
“If you want to do this for a living, get some years in playing this game, you have to do that,” Ellis said. “Other people are doing it.”
Huskies land Jay Z’s nephew
There’s a chance Jay Z and Beyonce will be in Sprint Center on Dec. 6 — not as performers but spectators for the Kansas-Washington basketball game. Jay Z’s nephew, Nahziah Carter, a 6-6 senior wing from Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester, N.Y., on Saturday committed to play for the Huskies.
“University of Washington commit. Go Huskies. Better late than never,” Carter tweeted on Saturday.
Carter initially committed to Dayton and coach Archie Miller, but decommitted after Miller took the Indiana job. Carter chose Washington over Indiana, Georgetown and Boston College. He is an unranked player in the Class of 2017.
Jackson’s agent speaks
Former KU guard Josh Jackson’s agent, former NBA guard B.J. Armstrong, has known Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo for more than 25 years. The Sixers have the No. 3 pick third in the NBA Draft behind the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jackson so far has worked out for just one team — the Lakers.
“What you see in this league right now is it’s a positionless league,” Armstrong told theintell.com. “There’s a premium on wing players who can play both sides of the ball and play the game at a high pace. Josh fits that category. He’s 6-8 and can play both sides of the ball. Certainly when you look in this league, that is a high premium in today’s game.”
Of the Sixers, Armstrong said: “They have a lot of potential there with (former KU forward) Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and (Dario) Saric. They have some great young pieces. Now you allow the pieces to grow.”