Perry Ellis has heard your jokes. He thought some of them were pretty funny.
The former Kansas star, who was among a group of prospects participating in predraft workouts with the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, grew accustomed to the online digs at his age as he logged four years as a Jayhawk in college basketball’s one-and-done era.
“I’ve been hearing it for so long now, I just have fun with it,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me. If anything, it just makes me play better.”
At times, Ellis even got a laugh, like “when they took my face and put it on Danny Manning or something.”
Though he played four seasons at Kansas — and though his hairline is beginning to retreat a bit — Ellis won’t turn 23 until September. He might be college basketball old, but he’s still a young man.
And as a pro, he’s just starting.
Monday’s workout was his eighth with an NBA team, and though most analysts project him as a borderline draft pick, he’s working to show he can do the things in the league that he did at Kansas, where he averaged 16.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists as a senior.
He also developed a thick skin about outsiders joking about his age. He got a respite, at least, in the Jayhawks’ locker room, where such insults were off limits.
“Nobody talked to Perry like that,” said guard Wayne Selden, who played with Ellis at Kansas and also worked out for the Pelicans on Monday. “Everybody respected Perry too much. Perry didn’t get any jokes at him in the locker room. Perry was the man. Nobody would dare.”
Michael Gbinije is projected as a likely second-round pick, but wherever the 6-foot-7 guard lands in the draft June 23, he’s confident that helping Syracuse to the Final Four this season will have given him a boost.
“That Final Four run definitely did help,” he said. “You end the season on a winning note, you get associated with winning, and that’s always a great thing to be associated with. You have to be a winner to get to the Final Four.”
Gbinije, who said he’s comfortable playing either guard spot, has been selective in choosing workout spots but said he “absolutely” saw New Orleans as an important spot, given the Pelicans’ 39th and 40th picks in the draft.
“Hopefully I played well enough for them to like what I did today,” he said.
The Pelicans hosted two pairs of college teammates Monday: Kansas’ Ellis and Selden and Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams.
“This is our second time crossing paths (at a workout),” Ellis said. “It’s pretty cool. Got to talk to each other in the hotel and stuff. It was good.”