Ellis earns fourth Gatorade POY award

Perry Ellis is already the most decorated player in the history of Kansas high school basketball, and Thursday he received yet another honor - the Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year award. It marks the fourth straight year in which he has been selected, an achievement unique in the award's long history.

If Perry Ellis doesn't have a lucky number, 'Four' would like to offer itself for consideration.

These days, it seems as if Ellis is surrounded by it. He maintains a 4.0 grade point average at Wichita (KS) Heights. He just put a cap on his fourth Kansas Class 6A state championship. He's a four-time, first-team all-state selection. And yesterday, he found out he had been named the Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year...for the fourth consecutive year.

In the long history of the award, Ellis is the first boys hoopster to claim it four times - an honor not lost on the soft-spoken and humble star.

"It means a lot," he said. "It wasn't my goal coming in. My goal was winning four state championships. When you have a mindset of wanting to win each game, even more things will come your way."

The future Kansas Jayhawk had a big season in the twilight of his high school career, averaging 25.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, though he felt his biggest improvement couldn't be measured by the stat sheet. Before the season, he dedicated himself to playing hard on each and every possession - and in hindsight accomplished that goal.

Still, he's more proud of what his team achieved.

"It was a different team this year," Ellis said. "We lost a lot of players from the year before. it was different, we lost a couple of games toward the end of the season. We usually don't do that. We really came back from that and played harder."

Since the season ended, Ellis has allowed himself to take a moment to sit back and relax for a bit. A notoriously hard worker, he'll be back in the grind of things soon enough - and in fact leaves this weekend for Chicago and the McDonald's All-American game.

The premiere high school event of the season each and every year, Ellis is eager to take part.

"I'm really excited to go hang out with the other players," he said. "It's the last time I really get to see any of them, and then we're moving on, going to our colleges. It should be fun."

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