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.

Wichita State’s McDuffie testing the NBA draft waters

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Wichita State forward Markis McDuffie entered his name into the NBA draft without signing with an agent, sources told NBC Sports on Tuesday.

It was initially believed that McDuffie would return to Wichita State for his senior season. As a sophomore, McDuffie, a former top 100 recruit, averaged 11.5 points and 5.7 boards, but he played fewer than 20 minutes a night as a junior after missing the first half of the season with a broken foot.

He will be a late-second round pick at best, but is likely to go undrafted if he opts to sign with an agent. He’s expected to return.

The Shockers are already staring down the barrel of a rebuilding season. Two players, including starter Austin Reaves, are transferring out of the program while all-american guard Landry Shamet has already made the decision to enter the draft and sign with an agent. As it currently stands, assuming McDuffie returns, just four scholarship players from this year’s team will play for Wichita State next season: McDuffie, Samajae Haynes-Jones, Asbjorn Midtgaard and Rod Brown.

Jeff Capel lands first commitment as the head coach at Pitt

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Jeff Capel is on the board with his first commitment as the head coach of Pittsburgh.

Trey McGowens, a top 100 prospect in the Class of 2019, announced on his twitter page that he will be enrolling at Pitt as a member of the Class of 2018.

A 6-foot-3 combo-guard, McGowens picked the Panthers over a handful of other high-major programs.

This is not exactly a program changing kind of commitment for Capel. Players that are late-spring commitments are almost always more celebrated because they end up in higher demand when there are fewer players left to fill the holes on rosters around the country. I’m not sure McGowens is all that different, but what’s significant about his commitment is that it’s proof that Capel is, at the very least, going to make some noise on the recruiting trail.

Capel has a long rebuild in front of him, but landing four-star prospects that will help spend a few years in the program are the kind of pieces that he needs at this point, and the kind of pieces that his predecessor was not able to land.

Felder no longer part of South Carolina basketball program

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina point guard Rakym Felder is no longer part of the Gamecocks basketball team.

Felder, a key freshman reserve for South Carolina’s Final Four team two years ago, was dismissed from the program by coach Frank Martin on Monday.

The 5-foot-10 Felder, from Brooklyn, New York, was suspended last summer after his second arrest in less than a year. Felder was not enrolled last fall. He was allowed to return in the spring semester although he did not play.

Martin said there were guidelines Felder had to follow upon coming back “and unfortunately, he has not met those expectations.”

Martin has not detailed those guidelines for Felder’s return to the court.

Felder had 15 points in South Carolina’s NCAA Tournament win over Duke in 2017

Washington’s Thybulle returning for senior season

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Matisse Thybulle will return to Washington for his senior season after contemplating declaring for the NBA draft following a junior campaign in which he was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year.

“The NBA is really enticing and it was definitely something that I seriously considered when the season was over,” Thybulle told the Seattle Times. “I talked it over with my family and we came to the conclusion that it would be in my best interest to stay and get my degree (in communications) and grow as a basketball player and take this last year to mature and fine tune everything so I can be fully prepared to take that next step when it’s time.”

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 11.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game last season. He shot 44.5 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from 3-point range.

“I talked to coach (Mike Hopkins) and he gave me some good advice that was honestly something that helped in the grand scheme of things,” Thybulle said. “He told me that if I do it (enter the draft), then I should be all in because that’s what I’m going to be up against is a whole bunch of guys fighting for their lives. He thought it would be a better idea for me to stay in school until I’m at that point.”

Washington is awaiting the decision of Noah Dickerson, who declared for the draft but has not hired an agent. The 6-foot-8 averaged 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds last season.

Koby McEwen transferring to Marquette

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Steve Wojciechowski added a significant piece to his 2019-20 team over the weekend.

Koby McEwen announced his intention to transfer to Marquette from Utah State late Sunday evening.

“I would like to thank God, my family, inner circle and all the schools/coaches that recruited me during this process!” McEwen tweeted. “With that being said, I’m proud to announce that I’ll be furthering my college career at Marquette University.”

McEwen picked the Golden Eagles over fellow finalists Creighton and Grand Canyon after he decided to transfer when the Aggies announced South Dakota coach Craig Smith was taking over the program last month. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.

After sitting out the upcoming season, McEwen will have to years of eligibility remaining. Marquette went 21-14 last season, but missed the NCAA tournament for the third time in Wojciechowski’s four years in Milwaukee.