Tyler (Ulis) the Creator embraces point guard ideal, looking to cut list to four

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — In theory, exposure camps like the NBPA Top 100 are great.

Bringing some of the nation’s top talent together to workout together and get coached by guys who make their living through basketball, and then allowing them to perform in front of a who’s-who of national media members seems like a perfect combination.

And while the successes of the camp outweigh the downfalls, one major negative is that players realize that they’re being watched, and scouted, and evaluated. These athletes aren’t dumb. They know that a strong performance can improve their national ranking, that word of a hot shooting night will get back to the coach or coaches they want to start being recruited by.

The result? Too often, the kids become shot happy and any semblance of an offense breaks down.

The problem solver? Tyler Ulis.

A 5-foot-9 point guard out of Chicago, Ulis not only makes an effort to distribute the ball to the players around him, he embraces the ideal of being a point guard. He wants to be Tyler the creator.

“Most kids think they gotta come to camps and just score, score, score. Get their ranking up,” Ulis told NBCSports.com on Thursday evening. “I just try to do what they don’t do. I like to pass anyway, so I try to pressure the full court defense and kick to players when they’re open, because in a camp like this you’ve gotta keep everybody happy. Otherwise, you’re team will just shut down. ‘I don’t get the ball, I don’t get to show what I can do.'”

It’s a lost art, really, the ability to penetrate the defense, get a foot into the paint, draw a defender, lay the ball off for a dunk or a three. Ulis can do it, and plenty of people have taken notice. Ulis is ranked 69th nationally in the Class of 2014, according to Rivals, and has gotten enough scholarship offers that he’s needed to whittle his list down to seven schools: Michigan State, Iowa, DePaul, USC, Florida State, Purdue and Northwestern.

“Me and my dad are going to sit down and try to break it down into four schools,” Ulis said of his recruitment status. “I only have four officials left, so we want to get that out of the way. After the rest of the camps and the Peach Jam and all that, we’re going to sit down and schedule officials.”

One school that may have the inside edge is Michigan State. Former Spartan Travis Walton is reportedly related to Ulis, and Ulis has said that the Spartans are “kind of my dream school“.

For now, however, Ulis isn’t concerned with where he’ll end up playing his college ball.

He’s simply focused on getting better and trying to absorb all the coaching that he can get.

“I’m just trying to learn for the NBA guys that are here,” he said.” Andre Miller, John Lucas. They are great people to talk to and ask questions about because they are making a living doing what I want to do.”

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Missouri lands No. 1 player in Class of 2017 as Michael Porter Jr. commits

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Missouri and new head coach Cuonzo Martin have landed the No. 1 player in the Class of 2017 a week after he took the job as forward Michael Porter Jr. committed to the Tigers on Friday.

Formerly a Washington commit under now-fired head coach Lorenzo Romar, the 6-foot-9 Porter was released from his Letter of Intent this week and many believed he’d end up back at Missouri.

The Porter family lived in Columbia for many years as two of Michael’s older sisters play for the Missouri women’s team while Michael Porter Sr. was an assistant coach for the women’s team.

When Porter Sr. was hired to Missouri to be an assistant coach on Martin’s staff this week — after losing his assistant coaching job at Washington when Romar was fired — it all but sealed the deal that the Porters would return to Missouri and Michael Jr. would play for the Tigers.

Missouri might not be an NCAA Tournament team next season after struggling to an 8-24 finish and 2-16 record in the SEC. But Porter might be the most productive freshman entering college basketball next season as he has a chance to be dominant in the SEC.

Oklahoma State promotes assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach

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Oklahoma State has decided to promote assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach, the school announced on Friday.

Boynton was an assistant with the Cowboys under former head coach Brad Underwood, who left Oklahoma State to take the Illinois job last weekend. Also an assistant coach at Stephen F. Austin, South Carolina, Wofford and Coastal Carolina, Boynton is a native of New York City who played his college ball for the Gamecocks.

The hire of Boynton is surprising since he doesn’t have any head-coaching experience as it follows in the footsteps of Cal promoting assistant coach Wyking Jones earlier in the day. Boynton also notably won the job over broadcaster and former Oklahoma State guard Doug Gottlieb as Gottlieb interviewed for the job but wasn’t selected.

 

Rhode Island junior E.C. Matthews will return to school

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Rhode Island junior guard E.C. Matthews will return to school for his redshirt senior season, the school announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-5 Matthews led the Rams in scoring at 14.9 points per game this past season as he returned from a torn ACL and helped Rhode Island reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.

Besides for being a talented scorer, Matthews is a good overall playmaker for the Rams as he also put up 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

With Matthews returning, it gives head coach Dan Hurley a huge weapon for next season as Rhode Island returns everyone besides the senior front court of Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson.

Cal promotes assistant Wyking Jones to head coach

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Cal will promote interim head coach and former assistant coach Wyking Jones to head coach, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The story was first reported by Jon Rothstein of FanRagSports.com

A native of Inglewood, California, Jones has been an assistant coach for the Golden Bears for the past two seasons as he replaces former head coach Cuonzo Martin, who departed to take the Missouri job. This promotion comes as a bit of a surprise for some since Jones has never been a head coach at the Division I level.

Jones has spent 15 years as an assistant coach at the Division I level at places like Cal, Louisville, New Mexico, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount — where Jones spent his playing career.

Helping Louisville to the Final Four in 2013, Jones is a respected coach and recruiter who gets a great opportunity for his first head coaching job at the Division I level with Cal.

The Golden Bears made the NCAA tournament last year but finished 21-13 this season as they missed making the field of 68. Sophomore big man Ivan Rabb has already declared for the NBA Draft and it will be interesting to see what kind of roster Jones gets to work with right away.

One of the reasons Jones might have been retained is to help Cal keep its solid five-man recruiting class from bolting. While the Golden Bears don’t have any five-star talents coming in, it is a solid foundation for the program’s future led by a four-star guard in Jemarl Baker.

Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac declares for 2017 NBA Draft

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Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac has declared for the 2017 NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-10 Isaac was a five-star prospect out of high school as he averaged 12.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. One of the most versatile defenders in the country, Isaac could protect the rim (1.5 blocks per game) and also switch out to the perimeter and cover smaller wings as well (1.2 steals per game). Also showing a solid skill level, Isaac shot 50 percent from the field, 34 percent from three-point range and 78 percent from the free-throw line.

That kind of versatility is what Isaac is banking on in the NBA Draft as he’s expected to be a top-15 pick. If Isaac can prove that he’s a reliable perimeter shooter then teams could be intrigued by him as a matchup nightmare in the front court.