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Thursday, March 8, 2012
Eye on POY: Kansas boys basketball

By Ben Rohrbach

The window on the Gatorade State Boys Basketball Player of the Year race is closing, and the search for elite student-athletes is in full swing. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program’s selection process.

Return of the POY, Perry Ellis, Wichita Heights, Kansas
Perry Ellis is the three-time returning Gatorade Kansas Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
Perry Ellis
Senior power forward, Heights (Wichita, Kan.)

2011-12 Team record: 20-2 (Class 6A)
2011-12 Team standing: No. 40 ranked team on ESPNHS FAB 50; Class 6A first round vs. Olathe East on Thursday

2011-12 Points per game: 25.7
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 9.9
2011-12 Assists per game: 1.7
2011-12 Blocks per game: 1.0
2011-12 Steals per game: 0.9

Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: University of Kansas

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Led the Falcons to a state record 62 consecutive victories. Nets his 25.7 points on a remarkable 13.2 shots per contest. Faced a schedule of opponents with a .528 winning percentage. 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 Gatorade Kansas Boys Basketball Player of the Year. No. 31 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2012 McDonald’s All-American. 2009, 2010 and 2011 Class 6A First Team All-State selection as named by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association. 2009, 2010 and 2011 Class 6A state champion. 2010 USA Basketball Men’s Developmental National Team Roster member. 2011 adidas Nations Camp invitee. 2009 and 2011 Elite 24 Hoops Classic selection.

Semi Ojeleye
Junior guard/forward, Ottawa (Kan.)

2011-12 Team record: 22-1 (Class 4A)
2011-12 Team standing: Class 4A first round vs. McPherson on Thursday

2011-12 Points per game: 31.9
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 7.9
2011-12 Assists per game: 1.6
2011-12 Blocks per game: 1.1
2011-12 Steals per game: 1.2

Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: Undecided

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Averaged 36.0 points in the Class 4A sub-state semifinals and finals as Ottawa earned a No. 3 seed. Has shot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 88 percent from the free throw line. The Cyclones did not feature another Division I recruit or returning All-State performer. His 31.9 points and 1.6 assists account for 55.6 percent of Ottawa’s 63.1 points per game. No. 39 ranked recruit in Class of 2013 as rated by ESPNU. 2011 Class 4A First Team All-State selection as named by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Boys Basketball Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2011-12 campaign.

Willie Cauley: Senior center, Northwest (Olathe, Kan.)
Conner Frankamp: Junior shooting guard, North (Wichita, Kan.)
Buddy Hield: Senior shooting guard, Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.)
Shavon Shields: Senior small forward, Northwest (Olathe, Kan.)
Gavin Thurman: Senior power forward, Heights (Wichita, Kan.)
Mason Wedel: Senior power forward, De Soto (Kan.)
Dominique Wilson: Senior center, Washington (Kansas City, Kan.)

Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Player of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.