Written as a post-event story for my Media Writing course in Spring 2016.
The Kansas Jayhawks celebrated an emotional Senior Day with an 85-78 victory over the Iowa State Cyclones on Saturday, March 5, in Allen Fieldhouse.
Seniors Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor, Hunter Mickelson, and Evan Manning, along with student-manager Tim Skoch, were recognized in a pre-game ceremony for their efforts and accomplishments over the past four years.
Each senior was escorted onto the court by his parents in front of a sold-out Allen Fieldhouse. They were presented a framed jersey with photos to commemorate their time as Jayhawks.
The Jayhawks defeated the Cyclones to improve to 27-4 on the season. In his final performance at Allen Fieldhouse, Perry Ellis led the team with 22 points. The majority of the game was back-and-forth with nine ties and 14 lead changes. Kansas went on a 17-7 run in the final minutes of the game to seal the victory.
At halftime, broadcaster, Bob Davis was honored. Davis will retire at the end of the season after spending 32 years with Kansas Basketball. After the game, he also served as the emcee for the traditional senior speeches.
Evan Manning was first, and Hunter Mickelson followed. Each thanked their families, coaches, teammates, and fans for everything. Jamari Traylor spoke next with an emotional speech that brought even Bill Self to tears. Perry Ellis was the last to speak, and his speech concluded with “Perry! Perry!” chants from the crowd.
Senior and student manager, Tim Skoch, described his final game in Allen Fieldhouse as “awesome.” Skoch was recognized in the pre-game ceremony but said the speeches, Traylor’s in particular, were incredible.
“Hearing his story about the coaches and, in particular, Coach Self, about how he made him feel his freshman season was inspiring. It summed up what I’ve always thought about Coach, and that is that he knows how to treat everyone how they’re supposed to be treated,” Skoch said.
Skoch said he wouldn’t have changed a thing about Senior Day, including the time he spent at work and the time that he spend with his family after the game.
Student seniors, Ryan Ott and Chris Sims, both described Senior Day as a bittersweet moment. Over the past four years, both have spent many hours camping and enjoyed attending basketball games.
“The dedication students have to the team is something special. I mean, having to camp multiple times a week and waiting inside the Fieldhouse for two hours before every single game. It is amazing that I’ve been a part of that tradition,” Sims said.
Unlike Sims who will graduate in May, Ott will return to KU next year for law school. However, Ott said this was the first time it hit him that his time as an undergraduate is almost over.
“These seniors came in when I did. Their KU career has been the same as mine. The idea that this was the last time I would see Perry Ellis play is baffling. It’s not something I can comprehend,” Ott said.
Though this was the last time the seniors would play at Allen Fieldhouse, the 2015-2016 season isn’t over. The Kansas Jayhawks will begin Big 12 Tournament play on Thursday, March 10, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The Jayhawks will face off against the winner of the Kansas State and Oklahoma State game. Game time is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN 2.
All photos from Kansas Athletics.