Tyler Ulis is the latest player to enter Kentucky with the hype of ‘John Calipari point guard recruit’ attached to his name. That worked out well for the likes of Derrick Rose, John Wall, Tyreke Evans and Brandin Knight, but the last two lead guards that Coach Cal has brought in — Ryan Harrow and Andrew Harrison — failed to live up to those lofty expectations.
And while Ulis is coming off of a year where he erupted into a McDonald’s All-American from a mid-major plus prospect, he’s still not the kind of talent that is going to use Kentucky as a one-year stepping stone on his way to the NBA Draft’s first round.
That’s part of the issue with putting together a mixtape for a guy like Ulis. He’ll show you some sick no-look passes and a number of ankle-breaking dribble moves, but what he does best is not the kind of thing that is going to show up on a mixtape.
Ulis is key for the Wildcats for a couple of reasons:
- He’s a ball-handler that doubles as a capable outside shooter, and with the massive front line that Kentucky will sport next season, he should get plenty of open looks.
- He’s a tough defender that is quick and pesky enough to bother ball-handlers similar to the way that Ryan Boatright did during UConn’s run to the 2014 national title. Little guards with quick hands are an absolute nuisance to a team trying to run a set.
- Most importantly, Ulis is a pure as point guards get. He can score off the dribble and he showed the ability to take over a game when needed in high school, but his single best attribute is his basketball IQ. He understands the game, he makes the right decision, he’s not afraid to cut off transition and run half court offense, and his court vision allows him to find players that may not even realize they’re open.
That’s one of the things Kentucky was missing this past season. Ulis may need a year under his belt before he reaches the status of being an elite level college point guard, but he’ll be a valuable piece for Coach Cal because he can contribute in those three areas for Kentucky in November.
(Video via BallIsLife.com)
This post will be updated throughout the night.
Butler (KenPom: 41, RPI; 67) at Seton Hall (KenPom: 31, RPI: 37), 6:30 p.m.
LSU (KenPom: 53, RPI: 76) at South Carolina (KenPom: 45, RPI: 28), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Wisconsin (KenPom: 51, RPI: 62), 7:00 p.m.
Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 48, RPI: 30) at George Washington (KenPom: 71, RPI: 34), 7:00 p.m.
Missouri at Vanderbilt (KenPom: 35, RPI: 58), 9:00 p.m.
No. 14 Iowa State at Texas Tech (KenPom: 59, RPI: 51), 9:00 p.m.
Michigan (KenPom: 46, RPI: 56) at Minnesota, 9:00 p.m.
Washington (KenPom: 80, RPI: 57) at Utah (KenPom: 44, RPI: 16), 9:00 p.m.
San Diego State (KenPom: 65, RPI: 47) at Fresno State, 11:00 p.m.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: LSU at South Carolina, 7:00 p.m.
LSU attempts to stay atop the SEC standings when they travel on the road to face South Carolina. The Gamecocks have been very tough at home this season and they’re trying to form a potential four-way tie in the conference standings if they’re able to win this one (and Texas A&M wins tonight). It will be intriguing to see how Ben Simmons fares against South Carolina’s stingy defense.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: Saint Joseph’s at George Washington, 7:00 p.m.
An important game in the Atlantic 10 as Saint Joseph’s heads to the Smith Center to play surging George Washington. The Colonels have won three straight games as they try to stay with VCU and Dayton and make a move to tie the Hawks in the league standings. CBT’s Rob Dauster will be in the building for this one, so make sure to follow him on Twitter for updates.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- No. 21 Baylor will have a tough one in the Big 12 when they go on the road at Kansas State. The Wildcats just knocked off Oklahoma and the Octagon of Doom is a very tough place to play, even if Kansas State is struggling in the standings.
- No. 16 SMU will try to stay in the lead in the American as they host Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane could really use a road win like this for its postseason chances.
- An intriguing Pac-12 contest tips as Washington heads to Utah. The Pac-12 standings are a mess right now, but these two teams still have a chance to make one final move for the regular season title if they start building momentum now.
- In the SEC, Alabama hosts No. 15 Texas A&M, a team that has lost three of its last four games. The Aggies will be favored in this road contest, but this one could be interesting because of Avery Johnson’s unique connection to Texas A&M. Avery Johnson Jr., a transfer guard sitting out this season at Alabama, played for the Aggies last season, so he could have some useful tips for his dad on slowing down Texas A&M’s potent offense.
- No. 20 Providence will be looking for revenge when they head to Milwaukee to face Marquette. The Golden Eagles currently sit eighth in the Big East standings, but they did win on the road by a point over the Friars earlier this season.