Low-key Ellis learning to lead on young KU team

Kansas University sophomore Perry Ellis spins a basketball during a video shoot on KU men's basketball media day, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, at Allen Fieldhouse.

Perry Ellis will never get kicked out of a library, that’s for sure.

“He is a whole different kind of quiet,” Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self said of the Jayhawks’ 6-foot-8, 225-pound sophomore forward from Wichita. “You could be in a room with Perry and neither person speak for 24 hours.”

Sounding like a stand-up comic more than a hoops coach, Self continued: “Perry is much more comfortable with me. He will come in the office and we will have a 30-to-40 second conversation, which is much better than when he first got here.”

Seriously, folks … Self does not consider Ellis’ low-key demeanor a sign of weakness.

“His personality is very quiet and (he gives) the appearance of being laid-back, but he is also a guy that was the (Kansas) state player of the year four times in a row and won four state championships, so the fire burns, there is no question,” Self said of Ellis.

“I think that sometimes he, as a young kid — no matter how much you try to stress it — they still want to please the older kids. We are so young this year that (now) he is one of the ‘older’ kids. So I don’t think he will have a problem with that at all.”

Ellis, who said he worked on “his shooting a lot,” in the offseason after averaging 5.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 13.6 minutes a game his frosh season, also has been spending time on the intangibles.

“I definitely feel like I have become more of a leader, especially this year because a lot of guys are looking up to me,” Ellis said. “I’m just trying to show them to play hard. It was a quick transition for me becoming a sophomore and one of the older guys. I was a freshman last year and now we have a young team and so I’m one of the older guys now.

“I know that will help me on the court when I’m talking with the guys. It will help me learn more,” he added. “I’m trying to get out of my shell more and more, progressing at talking and that aspect. I talk when I have to.”

Ellis — he came on strong late last season when named to the Big 12 all-tournament team — figures to receive help in the leadership department from junior guard Naadir Tharpe.

Ellis and Tharpe were rotation players on last year’s senior-laden 31-6 team.

“We embrace the role, which is why we came to this school,” Tharpe said. “With all of the young guys, Perry was here last year and this is my third year, we know what is needed and what coach wants out of his players. We need to be able to help the guys out and that is what we are going to do.”

Tharpe said he expects a breakout year from Ellis, who had 23 points in the Big 12 tourney semifinals against Iowa State and 12 in the title game versus Kansas State.

“Last year he was trying to figure himself out what he needs to do, what we actually need from him. This year he clearly knows what needs be done,” Tharpe said. “He’s shown it the whole summer. He scores in so many ways, the post, midrange, stretching it out past the three-point line. The way he’s playing … his whole mindset is different. I’m happy for him. Every day I’m telling him, ‘You look real good out there.’ It’s exactly what he’s doing, playing well every day.”

While also working on his communication skills.

“I’m learning to be more consistent on the court. I’m learning to be more consistent with talking,” Ellis said. “It just takes work.”