Perry Ellis to play in Germany while keeping NBA dream alive: ‘There are different paths’

By Gary Bedore

Perry Ellis will be traveling to Germany in early August to begin his latest basketball adventure.

The 6-foot-8, 24-year-old former Kansas standout forward, who played professionally in Australia and Italy last season after a rookie campaign in the NBA G-League in 2016-17, has signed a one-year contract with Oliver Wurzburg, a pro team based in Wurzburg, Germany.

Ellis — he just finished a stint with the Milwaukee Bucks in the Las Vegas Summer League — heads to Europe while not abandoning his dream of someday playing in the NBA.

“I’m focusing on Germany. I want to go there and play well. With that said, you never know. They (NBA officials) are still watching teams in Europe,” Ellis told The Star in a phone interview Thursday.

“I’ve not given up that goal, but if I get an opportunity overseas, I’ll take it. I can’t play forever. I’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities as well. I’m still trying to get to the NBA. There are different paths,” Ellis added, noting, “there are various players who have not gotten the opportunity to play in the league (NBA) at first. They were playing overseas. If I keep improving — and I am working hard on my perimeter game — you don’t know what could happen.”

Ellis is expected to be a starter for his new team in Germany. Oliver Wurzburg team officials pursued him, traveling to Vegas to meet with Ellis on a recruiting trip last week.

“After many weeks of hard work, we got him and his adviser to a personal meeting in Las Vegas (to) finally convince (Ellis) to start with us in Europe,” Wurzburg coach Denis Wucherer said Wednesday on the team’s website.

Ellis explained: “They seemed cool, were really excited to meet me and said they liked my game. They let you know they really want you.”

Ellis averaged 14.8 points and 5.7 rebounds a game in 27 games for the Sydney (Australia) Kings and 7.1 points and 4.9 boards in 14 games for Pallacanestro Cantù in Italy in 2017-18. But he did not receive much of an opportunity with the NBA’s Bucks the past two weeks. Ellis averaged 3.3 points and 2.5 rebounds a game in limited action, netting no more than 14 minutes in any of the team’s six games in Vegas.

“It’s always good getting the opportunity to get out there,” Ellis said, noting he was grateful for the opportunity to play with Bucks at a minicamp followed by summer league. He’s competed in the summer league three times since graduating from KU.

“It was just tough sometimes. Sometimes you don’t get as many minutes as you feel you can. I tried to take advantage of the opportunity.

“I mean I really have no clue,” he added, asked possible reasons for limited court time. “Some guys they had were already on the team. I worked really hard and feel I improved my game. Sometimes in basketball you never know what opportunities will be there. You’ve got to make sure you are ready.”

Ellis said he is more than willing to follow the path of someone like former KU guard Keith Langford, 34, who has made millions of dollars playing overseas.

“There are a lot of people, great players like him not in the NBA yet. I am happy I get to play the game I love for money. I’m happy. I can’t complain. I’m thankful for sure,” Ellis said, noting his moving from power forward to the perimeter still is a work in progress that NBA teams might monitor.

“I’ve really improved on the perimeter on shooting, dribbling, feeling comfortable out there,” Ellis said. “I have spent the past two summers working on it (perimeter) a lot, trying to transition to that. I can play the 3, 4 and 5. If I do all three that can be an advantage as well.”

Ellis said he will follow the current KU team while in Germany.

“Just like when I was in Italy, watching all those games late — 2, 3, 4 in the morning. I definitely will watch,” Ellis said.

Ellis, as recently noted in an article in The Wichita Eagle, is partnering with Fellowship of Christian Athletes to host a basketball skills camp at Derby North Middle School on Monday. The camp is for first- through eighth-graders and will have two sessions (the first 9-11 a.m. and the second noon-2 p.m.), each costing $40 or $75 for both.

“It’s always been a big part of me to be able to give back to my community,” Ellis told The Eagle. “FCA came to me and offered to put this on and I think it’s a good opportunity for me to share how basketball and God impacted my life. Both of those things are a big part of who I am.

“They’ll get all of the drills and the coaching, but they’ll also get me talking about my journey with Christ and basketball and how it all kind of intertwined together.”

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