Picture an All-American at Kansas who shot 50.3 percent from two for his career and 51.9 percent from two in his final season as the go to guy for a Big 12 champion. Pretty freaking great, right? Well you just thought of Drew Gooden. What Perry Ellis has done is shoot 51 percent from two for his career and 53.4 percent from two (so far) in his final season for a Big 12 champion.
Now picture a guy who went from taking basically no threes as a freshman and steadily increased his output and his accuracy until he made 41% of his 46 attempts in Big 12 play. Now know that was Travis Releford, a guy who won't resonate nationally but was one of the more efficient shooters in the country his final season at KU. Perry Ellis, meanwhile, is shooting 46% from three on 37 attempts and 47% overall on 53 attempts from deep this season.
It is impossible to discuss Perry Ellis without using the words efficient and underrated. He's shooting 51% for his career from two on over 1,000 attempts, and is at 44.5% from three on over 100 attempts for his career. There almost has to be more than this, but I could only find 4 other active players shooting 50+ percent on 1000+ twos.
It's also impossible to find an area in which Perry Ellis has not improved. His 2-point shooting has improved over the course of his career (although his senior year mark might be a bit under his sophomore year mark overall, he will end conference play shooting better inside the arc), and his 3-point shooting has gone from non existent to a mild curiosity to an actual weapon. But Perry Ellis is also a go to scorer who rarely turns the ball over. His turnover rate in Big 12 play is 12.7 percent. Buddy Hield's is 18 percent. Georges Niang's is 18.7 percent. Taurean Prince is at 19.3 percent. Jaysean Paige of West Virginia is the only go to scorer with a better turnover rate than Perry, at a nearly identical 12.4 percent.
Perry's big knock used to be that he couldn't score against size. It still bothers him more than playing against a small team, but with his increased range (more on that later) he's been able to get favorable matchups and drive by guys when needed. Perry was 8-10 from two against Texas on Monday doing just that, and was 7-11 against the Longhorns in Allen Fieldhouse, doing most of his damage inside. Against UCLA with its 7-footer, Ellis was 7-9 from two. Although he was just 1-4 against Kentucky, he was able to get to the line 13 times.
What has helped Perry more than anything else was his ability to adapt and change. As a freshman and sophomore he did most of his work around the rim, relying on his array of post moves and ability to get great post position to get him points. But this season he's turned into a hybrid. He can still catch the ball on the block, but he also has developed into one of the best stretch fours in the country. His 3-point shooting is great, his ball handling has improved, and both have allowed Perry to have tons of space. See this gif from the Texas game (thanks to Luke Winn for supplying the video):
It doesn't look as cool as Steph Curry crossing someone up, but Perry's first jab step makes Lammert retreat all the way into the lane because of Perry's speed and improved ball handling ability. Then Perry raising up to shoot makes Lammert jump all the way out thanks to Perry's ability to hit threes. Finally, because of that, Perry is able to get by him for the score.
What has been even more impressive is Perry's ability to turn himself from an awful defender, to an average defender, to a legitimately good defender. He won't ever be a shotblocker, but he does a really good job at standing there in the post and making guys shoot over the top of him. And he has gotten much stronger to the point where he won't get pushed around down low. To wit:
That is Perry moving giant man Prince Ibeh, even after Ibeh had established post position.
And as his offensive mobility has improved, so has his defensive mobility. Perry can get out there and stick with guys for possessions at a time. I was once very skeptical of his NBA future, but he's shown the ability to defend the pick and roll very well this season, and with that skill coupled with his offensive talents you never know.
I will close with this. Perry Ellis has currently scored 1645 points, ranking him 12th on the all time list. In order to pass Kirk Hinrich and move into the top 10, Perry needs to score 109 more points. At his current 16.3 ppg average that would take 7 games, which will require at least an Elite 8 run. Some dumb Kansas fans still call Perry Ellis soft because he doesn't dunk or, perhaps more accurately, he can't dunk over 7 footers regularly like every real man should be able to. But given that the man might finish his career as high as 9th on the all time scoring list at a place like Kansas, may all future Jayhawks be as soft as Perry Ellis.