LAWRENCE, Kan. — Perry Ellis led No. 7 Kansas in scoring Tuesday night. He was second on the team in rebounding, pitched in a couple of assists and didn’t commit a turnover in his college debut.
Just think: Jayhawks coach Bill Self believes the freshman will only get better.
Ellis finished with 15 points and seven boards in the 88-54 exhibition victory over Emporia State, and helped to drive a big first-half run that put the game away early.
“He scores the ball easy,” Self said. “He’s got such a nice touch with the ball. I thought he played well, but I still think he can be a lot more aggressive.”
Yes, Self is always going to find a fault.
“But he could be a really good player early in his career,” he conceded. “He did good.”
So did the rest of the Jayhawks’ newcomers, who will be counted on to fill the shoes left by All-America Thomas Robinson, a first-round NBA draft pick, and Tyshawn Taylor, the senior guard who helped lead Kansas to the brink of a national championship last season.
The Jayhawks lost to Kentucky in the title game in New Orleans.
Elijah Johnson had 12 points against the Hornets, a Division II school from southeastern Kansas. The senior came off the bench because he was “substantially late” for a class, Self said.
Johnson is one of three returning starters and the top returning scorer. Seven-footer Jeff Withey, the Big 12’s defensive player of the year, added seven points and six rebounds, and Travis Releford added seven points and three assists.
Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor both made statements in their first taste of playing in Allen Fieldhouse. The duo was part of last year’s freshman class, but was forced to redshirt after they were deemed by the NCAA to be partial qualifiers. They practiced with the team the second semester but were not allowed to suit up until this season.