He’s Staying! Ellis’ Announcement Concludes 2015 Banquet
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Dinner had wrapped up, head coach Bill Self was nearly done addressing the packed crowd and the team’s lone senior already said his thank yous – but one announcement still remained. When taking the stage to accept his Danny Manning “Mr. Jayhawk” award, junior forward Perry Ellis had something to say.
“I’ve been talking to my family and to Coach Self about the future. Looking back on this season, there is still a lot on the table,” Ellis said after his standing ovation had retaken their seats. “I feel that it would be best for me to come back.”
Another standing ovation, this time with even bigger smiles on the faces of Ellis, Self, his teammates and everyone in attendance at the 2015 Kansas men’s basketball banquet Monday night. Ellis’ announcement concluded what was a wonderful night of relieving memories from a year that included the Jayhawks’ 11th-consecutive Big 12 Conference regular-season championship. Self took time to reflect on the incredible streak, but wasn’t shy about admitting that the year didn’t end as his team wanted it to.
“When you expect excellence all the time, there’s going to be moments where you’re shot down and things don’t end the way you want,” Self said. “But don’t you want to be at a place where excellence like that is expected all the time?”
Though the night was emceed by longtime radio voice of the Jayhawks Bob Davis and included cameos by KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and former Kansas All-American Wayne Simien, Self did the talking. After dinner, the crowd shifted its focus to an in-depth highlight video produced by Rock Chalk Video before Self took to the podium.
Full of jokes, Self poked fun at each of his players one-by-one, but also handed out sincere compliments to the guys that kept the streak going. Frank Mason III was a stud, while Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is younger than half of his current recruits and Brannen Greene’s patented temple tap after three-pointers gave him a slight concussion that disrupted his shooting for the rest of the year. All in jest, Self also made it clear that he was proud of his 2014-15 Jayhawks.
“The league was a monster this year,” Self said. “It had never been better and we beat each other up. That this team, with all the stuff that we dealt with, went and won it outright – not their 11th in a row, we shouldn’t say that. This team won its first in a row. It was prideful and it meant something to them. It was a fun year.”
Self also explained the difficulties behind deciding the future and reminded the crowd that although the fans and the coaching staff selfishly wish each player would stay all four years, that part of his goals revolve around making his players’ lives better. That if a recruit chooses Kansas, that his life will be better for it. Because of that, many of them choose to continue their game at the professional level.
“How selfish of them that they should leave us?” Self joked. “The reality of it is, we want every kid to be in the position to make that decision. We have two stud freshmen that have each made the decision (to go to the NBA) and should be 100 percent happy for them. All of us wish you two nothing but the very, very best.”
Earlier this month, Kelly Oubre, Jr., and Cliff Alexander both announced their intention to declare for the 2015 NBA Draft. Self spoke kindly of how Alexander handled his NCAA issues like a man and never stopped supporting his teammates. He also talked about how when Oubre’s light switched on, it never switched off.
Among the night’s laughs, memories and thank yous, everyone involved with the program felt as if their contributions were appreciated. Before everyone rose for one final round of applause, Self thanked each of his coaching staff members, his “boss” Cindy Self and delivered one last message to the crowd.
“We’re going to get better,” Self smiled as he reeled off KU’s summer plans at the World University Games and the progress on the new McCarthy Hall. “No matter what happened this year and how it ended… think big picture. Because as much fun as you’ve had – we’re getting ready to have more.”
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