October 10th, 2012 by Patrick Sturgeon
In the second of our monthly series looking behind the scenes at a top college basketball team, we chat with three of the projected starters from the Kansas Jayhawks while they were in Paris at EuroJam.
ESPN America’s roving reporter Aaron Murphy catches up with Travis Releford, Elijah Johnson and Perry Eliis…
Click here for our previous report from Paris following KU at Eurojam.
If you looked up “team player” in the dictionary, there should be a picture of Travis Releford next to it. Releford grew up in Kansas City so his ties to the Jayhawks run very deep. After an All-American high school career, Releford learned to be patient, when it came to getting significant playing time for the talent rich Jayhawks. He even took a redshirt year after his sophomore season which showed everyone how unselfish he was.
Last season, as a junior, he cracked the starting lineup and was a major reason the Jayhawks made it to the Final Four. Releford talks about the bonding experience a pre-season trip like this means to him and his new teammates, and how they can use last year’s stellar season to motivate them to succeed this year.
The name Elijah in various folklore is held responsible for storms, hail, rain, and thunder, “Elijah the Thunderer” to some. I find the same comparison in the way the ball flows from Elijah’s hands every time he takes a jump shot. His release strikes as quick as thunder and the resulting jump shot is like smooth drops of rain falling into the net. I am sure it comes from the hours he spent practising his art at historic Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence.
During his senior year at Kansas, Johnson will be expected to dish the rock and let those jump shots rain in from the heavens. When we caught up with Elijah on tour, he talked about how important it was to let the younger players know that the KU basketball team is like a family, a fun one as well. He also knows that Coach Self wants him to show confidence in everything he does and serve as a role model to the younger players.
With a name like Perry Ellis, the famous fashion designer of the 1970’s, Ellis would have been a huge hit in Paris without the basketball element.
Perry Ellis of the Jayhawks was one of the most sought-after high school players in the US last year. The Wichita, Kansas native grew up following Jayhawk basketball, so I am sure KU fans are happy that he decided to keep his talents in state. Ellis was one of the most impressive new comers on the Jayhawks Euro Jam tour and should crack the starting lineup as a true freshman. During our chat with Perry, he spoke about the bonding experience amongst the players during the trip and his belief that all the hard work will pay off in March.
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Watch our coverage of the Kansas Jayhawks at the Euro Jam Paris 2012
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