UK Recruiting

Kentucky playing catch-up in recruitment of Duke fan Ellis

Perry Ellis, a 6-foot-8 forward from Wichita, Kan., said he patterns his game after  LeBron James' and Kevin Durant's.
Perry Ellis, a 6-foot-8 forward from Wichita, Kan., said he patterns his game after LeBron James' and Kevin Durant's. The Wichita Eagle

INDIANAPOLIS — A 4.0 grade-point average. A top-20 prospect. A summer job involves planting trees.

If that doesn't make Perry Ellis an object of intense recruiting interest, he's also polite. During a break in the adidas Invitational here Wednesday, he called it "an honor" to be recruited by a particular school.

OK, the school is Duke. No one's perfect.

"Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski), the USA team," Ellis said in explaining why he held Duke in such high regard. "That just humbles me. It's just an honor to be wanted by them."

Kentucky, which will work toward a fourth straight No. 1 recruiting class under Coach John Calipari, is in the running for Ellis, a 6-foot-8 forward from Wichita, Kan., going into his senior year.

"I like Coach Cal," Ellis said. "I like his approach."


"He lets you roam a little freely," he said.

Ellis voiced a similar impression of Calipari's successor at Memphis, Josh Pastner.

"He's not micromanaging you," he said of Pastner.

Memphis has the added advantage of being the alma mater of Ellis' sister, Savannah, who played basketball for the Tigers.

Other schools on his list include the home-state trio of Kansas, Kansas State and Wichita State.

Then there's Duke, his favorite team when he was in elementary school. "I was a real Dukie," he said.

By now, Ellis said he could soberly assess his college options.

Ellis took no bows for his 4.0 GPA. He suggested the glittering academic record can blind others to the work it takes to achieve such a standard.

"It was tough for me to get there," he said. "It just doesn't come to me. I work for it. (People) think I'm just super. I'm working for it."

Work this summer means a nursery in Wichita. Besides planting trees, he loads customers' purchases into their vehicles.

"I wanted to be inside," he said.

Ellis was not entirely happy with his first game in the adidas Invitational. He scored 15 points, but his team — Kansas City Pray and Play Players — lost 55-37.

"When I get the ball, I need to attack more," he said. "I feel I can score. I'm a little too passive."

Perhaps the game's 8:15 a.m. start contributed to passive play.

Ellis listed LeBron James and Kevin Durant as players he tries to emulate. His play in the first game here did not reach such a lofty standard. But more than once, he flashed what he considers his best attribute.

"Going coast to coast," he said. "Rebound. Taking it."

Ellis continues to battle tendinitis in both knees.

"It's doing a lot better," he said. "It helped by taking a week off."

He said he treats the pain with "a lot of icing and resting. That's the only thing you can do."

Then Ellis added an optimistic note. "They said 70 percent of NBA players have it," he said.