At this point, Perry Ellis has probably forgotten what it's like to play basketball without monumental expectations on his shoulders.
The five-star prospect from Wichita (KS) Heights High School is currently ranked by Scout.com as the No. 19 talent in the Class of 2012, placing him firmly within the ranks of the nation's elite. Membership in that brotherhood is nothing new, however, as Ellis has been regarded as potential star in the making by fans, recruitniks and college basketball coaches since practically before his freshman year.
Soft-spoken and humble, the 6-foot-8 combo forward from the Sunflower State typically chooses to let his game do the talking - and this summer it's saying an awful lot.
Scout.com national recruiting analyst Evan Daniels caught Ellis in action at the Chicago Best Buy Tournament last week, and had this to say:
"Over the course of the spring, Ellis has looked more and more aggressive and he continued that here at the Best Buy event. The 6-foot-8 power forward was active on both ends, but was especially effective on the offensive end when he faced up defenders and attacked. He's terrific on the baseline, as he knows how to use the rim to shield off defenders. Ellis plays hard and continues to get better."
Overall, Ellis said he's been pleased with his performance to date.
"I have been working hard on shooting and trying to put up more shots during a game," he said. "I also am working on playing hard and aggressive the whole game. I think that so far this spring I have shown this, but want to keep building on that."
While most teenagers use the summer to let their bodies and brains recover from another stressful school year, Ellis' date book during the next few weeks is, well, a little full.
In fact, calling it "a little full" might be understating things just a tad. Before the month is up, he'll have attended a number of prestigious camps - including Adidas Nations in Houstin, the NBA Top 100 Camp in Virginia, and the Kevin Durant Nike Skills Academy in Chicago - where he'll have the chance to compete against, and learn from, the best.
"Yes, I enjoy playing against and with the top talent," Ellis said. "It makes you better and helps you measure where your game is at compared to the other top players. It has been a great opportunity to be able to experience these events at a young age."
On the recruiting front, the athletic combo forward has long maintained a patient, methodical approach to the process. After trimming his list to six schools in December - Kansas, Kansas State, Wichita State, Kentucky, Memphis and Oklahoma - circumstances have brought another program into the picture.
With former Sooners head coach joining the staff at Duke, the Blue Devils have entered the fray, to much publicity from the national recruiting media.
While fans have speculated as to where, exactly, Duke would fall on his list right now, Ellis maintains the two parties are just getting to know each other right now.
"Coach Capel and I have known each other for about three years," he explained. "Sure, knowing Capel helps but I still have a lot to learn about Duke yet. I have only talked to (Coach Mike Krzyzewski) twice in my life and we are just now getting acquainted. We will just have to wait and see after this summer."
Once the season comes to a close, it looks as if the ball will really begin rolling in his recruitment. Each school on the list has made Ellis a priority, including home state Kansas, where Head Coach Bill Self and his staff have made it clear the local star is one of their top targets - if not the top target - in the Class of 2012.
"Coach (Danny) Manning stays in close contact with my parents and me through email," Ellis said. "He also stays in touch with my high school coach, Joe Auer, and my AAU coach, Steve Young. When I was in Lawrence for the Jayhawk Invitational, my parents went to the KU offices and met with Coach Self and the rest of the staff. I wasn't able to attend with them; I was with my team driving back home."
Summer's end should bring with it another trimming of the list, and then it's time to get down to brass tacks, as the saying goes.
"I would like to take five official visits this fall," Ellis said. "And, if I feel comfortable, then make my decision before my senior season starts."