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.