Tyler Ulis

Michigan State focusing on 2014 point guard Tyler Ulis, not Tyus Jones

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Apple Valley High (Minn.) point guard Tyus Jones announced his list of official visits on Tuesday. And Michigan State is not one of them.

That is leaving many to believe that the Spartans are out of the race for the nation’s top rising senior point guard, and that may have something to do with Marian Catholic High (Ill.) point guard Tyler Ulis.

Ulis is a top 50 player according to Rivals, and several days ago had cut his list to four — Kentucky (no scholarship offer), Iowa, USC and MSU.

From Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press:

Jones, ranked the No. 1 point guard and No. 2 overall player for 2014 by Rivals.com out of Apple Valley, Minn., was pursued early and often by MSU coach Tom Izzo. But he has long been considered a Duke lean. MSU offered Ulis in May and coaches reportedly spent considerably more time watching him than Jones at AAU events over the summer.

The 5-foot-8 point guard has shot up the Rival rankings, up 20 spots from his No. 69 overall ranking back in mid-June. The rise is largely due to his ability to drive and kick, creating open shots for his teammates which has earned him the name Tyler the creator.

“Most kids think they gotta come to camps and just score, score, score. Get their ranking up,” Ulis told NBCSports.com in June during the NBPA Top 100 Camp. “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.’”

Ulis may be the right direction for Tom Izzo, as the Chicago Heights native has previously referred to Michigan State as a “dream school.” If Ulis does end up in a State uniform, he could have several weapons to dish to. Forwards  Cliff Alexander of Curie High (Ill.), Kevon Looney of Milwaukee Hamilton (Wis.) and Reid Travis of De La Salle High (Minn.) are all still considering the Spartans.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.