“I’m really looking forward to it,” said 6-8 forward Perry Ellis, whose whole family will be there along with many friends. “(It’s been) a long summer. I had a lot of work and just excited to get out there. I’m just trying to to go out there and do whatever the coaches tell me. Just go out and play hard and see what happens from there.”
The Wichita native is also eager to play against Terrence Moore, his former teammate at Heights. The two spoke with each other two weeks ago, yet did not discuss the game.
“He’s real athletic, plays hard,” Ellis said about the player who led ESU with 12 points in a 60-49 loss to Tulsa on Saturday.
Ben McLemore is another athletic player who is relishing this evening after sitting out last season as a partial qualifier.
“I’m very excited. I can’t wait,” the 6-5 McLemore said. “This will be my debut, my first college basketball game. My family is coming up here again to see me play for the first time in front of 16,300 fans.
“I just want to bring a lot of energy to the team and effort like coach wants us to do,” the St. Louis native added.
McLemore will also be focused on defense. He received some advice about his first game in Allen Fieldhouse from senior guard Elijah Johnson when the Jayhawks were in Switzerland and France in August for their exhibition contests.
“(Johnson) just said, ‘Don’t even think about trying to score. The main thing you should think about is just playing defense. Once you play defense, everything else will come to you. The offense will come.’”
Like McLemore, Jamari Traylor was a partial qualifier last year who will have no trouble getting hyped for this game.
“It’s definitely a huge moment for me,” he said. “I’ve been sitting out the whole year, so I’m just (thrilled) to play and have my opportunity to get on the court.”
The 6-8 forward will be in the starting lineup tonight. He's taken advantage of his opportunity while Kevin Young has been out with a broken right hand. Young, who suffered the injury on Oct. 25, is expected to return to action in approximately 10 days.
“There’s definitely more minutes available while Kevin’s hurt,” Traylor said. “I know he’s going to have a speedy recovery and get back on the court. It is giving me a better opportunity to get out there, but I wish Kevin the best, too, as far as getting healthy.”
Traylor is a blue-collar player who has impressed Self and the coaching staff with his work ethic.
“I definitely bring my hard hat to practice every day, (so) I guess I’m rewarded for my energy and effort,” Traylor said. “I’m just happy they believe in me and just want to go out there and give my all.”