Kansas Jayhawks: Latest Nomination for Perry Ellis Deserved


The Kansas Jayhawks would not be where they are right now without Perry Ellis.

The junior forward, who leads the team in both points (14.2) and rebounds (7.0) per game, was named to both the AP and Big 12 Coaches’ First-Teams.

However, his latest award could be the most meaningful.

More from Kansas Jayhawks Basketball

Ellis, an under-sized, 6-foot-8, 225-pound power forward, was named one of five finalists for the Karl Malone Award that recognizes the nation’s finest power forward.

The fact that a guy who weighs 15-20 pounds less than the other four nominees (Georges Niang, Iowa St.; Montrezl Harrell, Lousiville; Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga; David Laury, Iona) is in the running, speaks volumes for the kind of talent Ellis brings to the court.

The junior is the only player in the Big 12 to be in the top-10 in scoring (6th) and rebounding (4th), and for good measure ranks sixth in field goal percentage.

You would think his detractors would be few and far between.

However, that hasn’t been the case — and yours truly will take some blame.

I have been critical in the past because it seems like Ellis sometimes doesn’t give a full effort, and is constantly pushed around under the basket. However, that happens less often than perceived.

The fact he is smaller than most power forwards and doesn’t have a center on his own team to help take some of the rebounding and defensive pressure off of him, does not work in his favor.

At times he may not be able to match-up with Rico Gathers (who is?) and other power forwards, but it is not for a lack of effort.

And for those who question his ability to match-up with others in the conference more often than not, take a look at his numbers the past two weeks, before injuring his knee in the first half of the West Virginia game last week.

Feb. 16, @ West Virginia — 19 points, five rebounds, 7-15 shooting

Feb. 21, TCU — 23 points, seven rebounds, 9-10 shooting

Feb. 23, @ Kansas State — 24 points, nine rebounds, 6-10 shooting

Feb. 28, Texas — 28 points, 13 rebounds, 9-21 shooting  

That’s 23.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, on 31-56 shooting.

If the Jayhawks are going to win the Big 12 Tournament and go far in the NCAA Tournament, Ellis will have to play well.

Sure Landen Lucas stepped up with a double-double in Ellis’ stead Saturday, and Hunter Mickelson has shown some promise the past two games, but they aren’t Perry Ellis.

They don’t draw the same amount of attention from defenses, score as many points, or rebounds as many missed shots.

While head coach Bill Self has said Ellis will play in the Big 12 Tournament opener Thursday, he will require a brace the rest of the season.

That’s better than no Ellis at all, and the Jayhawks will need all the help they can get against rugged Big 12 teams, not to mention NCAA Tournament teams.

Self went as far as to say he was disappointed Ellis was not named Big 12 Player of the Year. That’s how much the AP Big 12 Coach of the Year thinks of his junior power forward.

Apparently those voting for the Karl Malone award feel the same way.

Next: Kansas Jayhawks: Four Unbelievable Facts from the Bill Self Era

More from Through the Phog