When Perry Ellis was just a freshman at Wichita (KS) Heights High School, he looked up into the stands during one of his first varsity basketball games and spotted Kansas head coach Bill Self.
In the three years that followed, there would be many coaches in the stands when the 6-foot-8, 225-pound combo forward took the court, representing many of the top college basketball programs in the country.
But Self was the first, and as the scholarship offers began to roll in, it was something Ellis never forgot. In his own words, it excited him. It humbled him.
So in hindsight, it should come as little surprise that when Ellis - the most ballyhooed prep prospect to come out of the state of Kansas, let alone the city of Wichita, in many years - announced his college decision Wednesday, the Kansas Jayhawks were the last program left standing.
Soft-spoken and humble, after spending a few minutes thanking his family, coaches and friends for their support - as well as the many schools who recruited him - Ellis paused, leaned forward into the microphones gathered on the table before him, and put an end to his recruitment.
"At this time, I would like to decide on the school I will go to," the four-star prospect said, with a small smile. "And it's the University of Kansas."
It's been a busy couple of weeks for Ellis, who on Friday concluded a stretch of in-home visits with his four finalists - Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky and Wichita State - when Wildcats head coach John Calipari came to town.
Though he felt confident in his ability to flourish at any of those schools, in the end one thing in particular stood out about Kansas.
"All the schools are great," Ellis explained. "I just felt so comfortable at KU. I just felt so comfortable - that's the main thing."
As well he should. During the past 36 months, Ellis has been a virtual fixture on the Lawrence, Kan. campus, having visited many times unofficially. During his recruitment, he developed a close relationship with Self and assistant coach Danny Manning, and ultimately the entire Kansas staff.
On Wednesday, peppered by questions from the assembled media outlets, Ellis ticked off a virtual checklist of factors that helped the Jayhawks separate themselves - from the program's history and its proximity to home (far enough to feel as if he'd left the nest, but close enough to come home whenever he wanted) to Manning's penchant for getting the most out of big men donning the Crimson and Blue.
"You see what he does with his players," he said, of Manning. "For example, the (Morris) Twins, how they came in and how he improved them. It's going to be great. He's only going to make me better."
Even so, coming to a final decision was far from easy. Though the decision to sign with Kansas - which he will do during November's early signing period - had been solidifying itself in his mind for some time, he and his family had developed close relationships with every one of his Final Four.
"It was tough," Ellis said. "Over the years all these schools are real close to me. They've been here for three or four years now. It was a tough decision."
For the Jayhawks, that the talented big man is an important pick-up goes without saying. Ellis joins Plano (TX) Prestonwood Christian Academy power forward Zach Peters in the Kansas Class of 2012, as the coaching staff continues its efforts to restock a frontcourt depleted by graduation and the NBA Draft.
With his recruitment now behind him, Ellis is excited for the opportunity to finish his senior year and his final season as a prep athlete with a clear mind - and proud of the family he'll join next year.
"It's one of the top tradition programs," he said, of Kansas. "And I'm proud to be a part of it."