In an era of college basketball that has been defined by NBA-ready one-and-done talents, this season has been an anomaly. Heralded by some as “the year of the senior,” the sport has become dominated by prolific four-year talents. The National Player of the Year race is focused on players like Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine, Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield and Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon as columnists debate whether the likely top pick in this June’s NBA Draft, LSU’s Ben Simmons, deserves to be an All-American. Meanwhile, this year’s Big 12 has become a microcosm of the sport’s larger trend as the country’s best conference is dominated by seniors. Iowa State’s Georges Niang, a potential All-American, may be the biggest match-up problem in the game and Hield’s style of play has drawn favorable comparisons to current NBA MVP Stephen Curry. The league’s regular season champion, Kansas, is also headlined by a steady-handed senior, although his quiet demeanor doesn’t lend itself to frequent media mentions. If Hield is college basketball’s Curry, then the Jayhawks’ Perry Ellis is its Tim Duncan — the understated superstar who has consistently delivered for one of this year’s top teams.
The senior forward’s outing against Texas on Monday night was the quintessential Perry Ellis game. He scored with efficiency, needing just 11 field goal attempts to collect his 20 points. Bill Self called the performance “unbelievable,” but in reality, it was just another day at the office for Ellis. As a senior, he ranks eighth in the Big 12 in true shooting percentage, a statistic that measures the effects of all shooting statistics. And while he only collected four rebounds against the Longhorns, his outstanding offensive game — which most closely resembles the retired guy who shows up for the after school game at the local YMCA (Note: This may be because Ellis is actually the retired guy at the YMCA gym) — is what stood out. What he lacks in size and athleticism, he makes up for with old-school craftiness and a better-than-expected three-point shot.