Ellis named Kansas Gatorade POY

Last week, Wichita (KS) Heights High School star Perry Ellis was named the Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year – for the third year in a row.

No, that's a not a typo.

For three decades, Gatorade has been honoring the best prep athletes across the country, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. And in each of the past three, since his freshman year, they decided Ellis was the most prolific basketball talent in the Sunflower State.

As one might imagine, it's not something that tends to get old.

"Receiving the Gatorade POY is just as special the third time as it is the first," said Ellis, who was officially notified of the honor Thursday morning. "I am very honored to receive this award."

Right now, Ellis isn't the only one for whom great things come in threes. After all, it wasn't just a big year for the 6-foot-8 combo forward, one of the top prospects nationally in the Class of 2012, but for the entire Heights team.

The Falcons capped a perfect 25-0 season Mar. 12 by claiming their third straight Kansas Class 6A State Championship with a 58-51 victory over Overland Park (KS) Blue Valley Northwest. Interestingly, the last time a Heights team went undefeated was 1977 - back when Darnell Valentine and Antoine Carr led the way to a 23-0 record. Both would, of course, go on to brilliant college careers at Kansas and Wichita State respectively.

Additionally, the 44 game win streak the Falcons are currently riding broke the Kansas Class 6A record of 42, held by Wichita (KS) South since 1994.

"It was a great season," Ellis said. "We played our best basketball this year, going undefeated 25-0. This is a goal I had set my freshman year. I am glad we were able to accomplish this."

Ellis saw his own game take great strides in 2010-2011. In the process of averaging 22.1 points and 7.9 rebounds for game, his field goal percentage skyrocketed from 63-percent as a sophomore to an almost unfathomable 75-percent. His free-throw percentage rose to 72-percent, and he played more powerfully around the rim, recording 21 more dunks than in 2009-2010.

For prospects looking to obtain college scholarships - and Ellis has long been swimming in offers from many of the top programs in the country - hoops has become virtually a year-round commitment.

Ellis will take a week off, but is then right back in the saddle preparing for the upcoming AAU season and the All-American Championship game - an all-star event April 3 in Houston, Texas, featuring 40 of the top high school players in the country.

With so much on his plate, recruiting hasn't much crossed Ellis' mind lately.

"I have just been focusing on my junior season and trying to win another state championship," he said.

In December, Ellis trimmed his list to six schools, where it still stands today. Those schools are Kansas, Kansas State, Wichita State, Kentucky, Memphis and Oklahoma. Each has offered a scholarship.

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