NBPA Spotlight: Perry Ellis

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. --- A No. 1 ranking can be both a blessing and a curse.

Perry Ellis was dubbed the No. 1 freshman in the country by several publications a couple years ago, and while that was high praise, it also heightened expectations moving forward.

As the top-ranked player, very good performances are less likely to earn praise when greatness is expected, and scouts and fans alike watch with a more critical eye. And, truth be told, any ranking done that early is a premature assessment.

Now a rising junior, you won't find Ellis at the very top of the rankings anymore. The 6-8, 215-pound forward from Wichita (Kan.) Heights has settled in as a Top 25 prospect, a projection those premature rankings don't attempt to make in their urgency to rank players as early as possible.

Ellis acknowledged the pressure that came with the early publicity, but uses it to drive him to improve.

"It just makes me work harder, honestly," he said. "When I see people have expectations for me, I just work harder. I don't think about the rankings at all - I just play my game."

Ellis may not get a lot of ink for his performances at the NBPA Top 100 Camp this week, as media members are looking for new stories and scouts are looking for new prospects, but he's been playing quite well.

His body and game are in the mold of a power forward, but Ellis is displaying an offensive versatility that'll give a college coach more flexibility with him on the floor.

"I've been working on my perimeter game and it's gotten a lot better," Ellis said. "It's starting to come to me and give me a lot of different ways to score."

Indeed, he was one of the camp's top scorer's in his Friday performances, highlighted by a 17-point outing, using a variety of ways to score in on-on-one situations – post moves, off the dribble, face-up jumpers – and attacking the offensive glass.

"I've been working most on my shooting and dribbling – those are the main things," Ellis said. "Before that I was more like a post player when I was younger, but I've extended it."

College coaches have noticed, as reflected by the constant ringing of Ellis' phone on June 15.

"The first day the schools that called were Memphis, Kentucky, Stanford, Wake Forest, Oklahoma…" Ellis said, then trailed off as he tried to remember those that he spoke to and those whose calls he missed.

"North Carolina called – Coach Haase," he said. "I've been out there for unofficials. It's nice there – it's a school I'm looking into."

Don't expect a decision anytime soon from Ellis. He thinks he's still about a year away from that point.

"It'll be by the end of my junior year," he said. "I'm in no rush."

Perry Ellis Profile

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