It’s safe to say that in one year, John Calipari has turned Kentucky into NBA U. With five players slated to go in the first 20 picks of this year’s NBA Draft, and commitments last week from top-five players in the Class of 2010 (Brandon Knight) and Class of 2011 (Michael Gilchrist) – not to mention All-American senior Doron Lamb – you’d think Coach Cal would take a day off. Think again. While there are still some outstanding players who might commit to the Wildcats for next year, Calipari is focusing his attention on the Class of 2012.
Tonight, along with assistant coach Orlando Antigua and staff member Tony Delk, the trio will be in Wichita, Kan. to attend an open gym featuring 6-8, 215-pound sophomore Perry Ellis, a two-time Player of the Year for the state of Kansas and arguably the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2012. You might remember reading about Ellis back in Dime #49, when we put on the cover: “Meet the No. 1 pick in the 2013 Draft.” One year later, we still stand behind that statement.
Ellis already has scholarship offers from Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Memphis and Wichita State, and tonight’s open gym will also feature a slew of coaches in attendance. In addition to Calipari & Co., Stanford’s Johnny Dawkins, Kansas’ Bill Self, K-State’s Frank Martin, and coaches from Texas A&M, Louisville, Memphis and Wichita State will checking out the phenom tonight.
This past season, Ellis led Wichita Heights High School (23-2) to a second consecutive Class 6A state tournament title, averaging 22.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. And beyond his talent on the court, it’s his talent in the classroom that has coaches salivating for the prep star. Ellis has maintained a 4.0 GPA in the classroom and ranks No. 1 in his class.
While there is no frontrunner as of yet, Ellis’ sister plays basketball at Memphis, and Calipari began recruiting him when he was still the coach there. As only a sophomore, he’s clearly in no rush to make a decision, but you can see that schools aren’t willing to take this recruitment lightly.
What do you think? If you were Ellis, where would you sign?
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