Perry Ellis shares his tips to balancing a high GPA and a basketball career
By: Alana Flinn | @alana_flinn
Countless hours of practice, workouts and games are just a few of the things that consume junior Kansas basketball forward Perry Ellis’ day. However, even with an impressive basketball career to maintain, Ellis insists on achieving good grades.
“It was tough in high school, but here in college, it’s a whole other level and a lot tougher,” Ellis said. “The key thing in high school I learned was you have to knock out assignments and don’t procrastinate, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do here in college, and it’s definitely helped.”
Ellis said that he began prioritizing grades in middle school. From then on, Ellis pushed himself to achieve high grades, especially after motivation from his high school coach.
“My coach taught me how to push myself in the classroom; he’s the one who really pushed me to take challenging classes,” Ellis said.
Throughout high school, Ellis maintained a 4.0 GPA and graduated as valedictorian from Wichita Heights High School. While he managed to keep excellent grades and lead his high school team to four-straight class 6A State Titles, Ellis said he didn’t dedicate time to much else.
“I didn’t really do much,” Ellis said. “Just a lot of Xbox, hanging out with friends, basketball and school.”
However, Ellis said basketball wasn’t always his main focus. He ran track on AAU teams for a majority of his summers.
“I was real big into track at a young age,” Ellis said. “It was something I really didn’t like doing. I was just fast, so everyone just said I should do it, and I was tall for long jump. I didn’t have the love for it.”
Ellis was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Second Team last season, which requires a GPA of 3.0-3.19. He is pursuing a degree in sports management with a minor in business. While he doesn’t know exactly what he would like to do with the degree, he knows networking as a player now will help him in the future.
“I just know I want to be involved around sports,” Ellis said. “Being an athlete and meeting all these people will really help in the end, maybe coaching or agenting or something.”
With three years of experience on the basketball team, Ellis knows that once the season begins, managing time and having a plan to study is crucial for success
“The key thing is just taking the notes and paying attention in class and studying,” Ellis said. “It’s real tough in postseason play because you have to travel so many days for games, and you’re gone for a long amount of time, and you have tests you have to make up. The key thing is getting in contact with the teachers as early as possible, and they love seeing us succeed, so they’re rooting for us and want to help.”
Ellis also knows that staying out of the public eye and limiting partying are important, especially during tournament season.
“During March Madness, a lot more people are paying attention to you, the spotlight is on you so you have to make sure you’re doing the right thing,” Ellis said.
Ellis’ time on the team has helped him be both academically and athletically successful.
“Listen to your academic advisors and coaches right from the go — that’s key because you’re going to have to learn what they want you to do whether it’s now or later,” Ellis advised. “The sooner you do that, the sooner you buy into the system and the better it’s going to be.”
To unwind at the end of a hectic day, Ellis sticks to the same routine as when he was in high school.
“I’m just real low key,” Ellis said. “I like just chilling and talking with friends and just playing an Xbox game.”
While maintaining grades, classes and a basketball career is challenging and time consuming, Ellis loves being a student athlete.
“Basketball keeps me busy doing something I love,” Ellis said. “It’s humbling to me, getting the opportunity to play basketball here.”
— Edited by Emily Brown
Photos by: George Mullinix/KANSAN