ST. LOUIS, Mo. -

Wichita Heights graduate and Kansas star Perry Ellis has never been an overly vocal or emotional individual on or off the court.

But that is starting to change.

After losing in the Big 12 semifinals to Iowa State, Ellis stood up in the locker room and had a message for his team.

"Coach always said this team is never going to be together again. We have seniors so somebody is going to be gone," Ellis said. "I said this is our last chance. We can't lose anymore going forward. I just felt like I needed to relay that message."

It was a message the team needed to hear, but not from the vessel one would expect.

"I was really surprised, but it was good coming from him because he is going to have to be one of our leaders for us to be successful in this tournament," fellow Wichita native Connor Frankamp said.

Ellis has been making strides toward being a more vocal leader in his time at Kansas.

"He is a quieter guy, but he is not quiet," senior Tarik Black said. "Perry speaks up. When we are in team huddles and things are going bad, Perry will tell us to step up. Perry will do things like that because he cares about the game. It is just his personality. He doesn't talk all the time, but he has love and passion for the game and he wants us to win."

Ellis has been a key on the floor with the Jayhawks this season averaging 13.6 points and 6.5 rebounds, but that vocal leadership is going to be almost as key going forward for Ellis this season and beyond.

"It is a growing process," Black said. "Perry is only a sophomore in college. I am a senior. I have been through more and I am more comfortable with speaking up and saying things. That comes with seniority and being older. He is going to get better with time. Perry's personality will come out more with time. You can't dump a whole load on a man's back already when he is still an underclassman himself."

Kansas tips off against Eastern Kentucky at 3:10 p.m. Friday in St. Louis.