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Tyler Ulis

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Tyler Ulis
Ulis at Kentucky's 2014 Blue-White scrimmage
No. 3 – Kentucky Wildcats
Position Point guard
League Southeastern Conference
Personal information
Born (1996-01-05) January 5, 1996 (age 20)
Southfield, Michigan
Nationality American
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Career information
High school Marian Catholic
(Chicago Heights, Illinois)
College Kentucky (2014–present)
Career highlights and awards

Tyler Ulis (born January 5, 1996) is a college basketball player who has completed his freshman season for the Kentucky Wildcats as a member of the 2014–15 team. He played for Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois.[1] At Kentucky, he made the 2015 SEC All-Freshman Team and led the Kentucky 2014–15 team that won its first 38 games before losing in the final four of the 2015 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament in assists. He was selected to play in both the 2014 McDonald's All-American Game and the 2014 Jordan Brand Classic. As a high school junior, he was a first team All-state selection, but he was overlooked by most top scouts until after his junior year of high school due to his height.

Early life

Ulis was born in Southfield, Michigan, and lived in Lima, Ohio, with his mother. He ran track as a youth, competing in the 800 meters and 1500 meters.[2] He trained for basketball with his cousin and 2009 Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Year Travis Walton.[2] Another of his cousins was Shareese Ulis, point guard for Cincinnati Lady Bearcats, who had been a two-time Toledo Blade Player of the Year.[2]

High school career

For high school Ulis moved to Matteson, Illinois,[2] where he lived with his father, James.[3] In Ohio, he had been used to winning a high percentage of his games.[3] When he arrived at Marian Catholic, he started his first game as a freshman against future Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball starting guard Tracy Abrams.[2] He did not initially enjoy team success. As a freshman he was Script error: No such module "convert". tall and was being recruited by opposing high schools. He reached Script error: No such module "convert". by late in his sophomore year and began being recruited college basketball teams.[3] By the beginning of his junior season, Marian Catholic was regarded as a serious contender thanks to Ulis.[4]

Because of his height, Ulis was overlooked until well into the recruiting process for top basketball schools. He was not highly recruited until his 2013–14 senior year of high school. Among schools regarded as high-major programs, only Iowa and DePaul made him offers during his junior year.[5] His other offers were from Dayton, Colorado State, Loyola, Northern Illinois and Oregon State.[2][6] During his junior season, his stock soared and Marian Catholic started winning.[6] In the March 2013 Illinois High School Association Class 4A sectional round, Marian Catholic vied against Bloom High School and then played Edwardsville High School in the supersectional round.[7][8] Although Marian lost to a much taller Edwardsville team, it established a school record for wins with a 29–4 record and it won its IHSA sectional for the first time.[9] Ulis finished fourth in the Illinois Mr. Basketball balloting behind Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor and Malcolm Hill.[10] He was a first team All-state selection by the Chicago Tribune along with Parker, Okafor, Cliff Alexander and Jalen Brunson.[11]

"[Kentucky made the list because] of the success they have had there recently...John Calipari has produced the most point guards in recent years and has taken them right to the NBA. He obviously knows how to coach point guards. He knows how to put them in positions to lead the team. He’s a tough coach. There’s accountability from Day 1 to win and win at a high level."

—Ulis' father, James Ulis[12]

By August 8, 2013 when he was ranked as the 38th best prospect in the national class of 2014 and its 8th best point guard by ESPN, he had several offers and named Iowa, Kentucky (although he did not have an offer from them at the time), Michigan State and USC as his finalists (eliminating DePaul, Florida State, Northwestern and Purdue).[13] Walton had played for Michigan State.[13] He received an official offer from Kentucky on August 16.[12] In early September, Ulis announced that he would not take an official visit to USC and had eliminated them from consideration.[14] On September 13, Ulis committed to Kentucky.[15][16] Subsequently, Tyus Jones canceled his September 27–29 official visit to Kentucky.[17]

Ulis entered his senior season as one of the five favorites to win Illinois Mr. Basketball (along with Okafor, Alexander, Brunson and Keita Bates-Diop).[18] On December 7, 2013 at the UIC Pavilion in the Chicago Elite Classic, Ulis and Marion suffered one of their only two regular season losses to USC-bound guard Jordan McLaughlin and Etiwanda High School, which was ranked number 6 nationally by USA Today. Ulis had 30 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds.[19][20] The January 25, 2014, matchup against junior Brunson and Stevenson High School was widely anticipated in the local press as the matchup of the two best point guards in the state.[21][22] Stevenson won as Brunson had 32 points on 9-for-15 field goal shooting and an 11-for-14 free throw performance. Ulis had 23 points and 9 assists, including 18 points and 3 assists in the final eight minutes, but was only 5-for-20 from the field for the game.[23] Ulis posted a career-high 42 points on February 22 against Lake Forest High School to go along with 6 steals, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.[24]

During his senior year, Marian was the number 1 seed in the Thornton sectional of the IHSA Class 4A tournament. On March 11, Ulis had 40 points to lead Marian past Bloom High School 66–45. In the game, which was a rematch from the prior year, he made his first six shots, all three-pointers.[25][26] On March 18, Marian lost its supersectional rematch against Edwardsville in overtime, again falling one game short of reaching the final four in Peoria, Illinois and finishing with a 28–3 record. In the game, Ulis, who had 23 points and 4 assists, tied the score with 21 seconds in regulation and with 50 seconds left in overtime.[27][28] In the April 18 Jordan Brand Classic, Ulis posted 9 points and 9 assists.[29]

Awards and honors

He was selected to the 2014 McDonald's All-American Game on January 29 (along with fellow Chicagoans Okafor and Alexander as well as along with fellow Kentucky commits Karl Towns, Trey Lyles, and Devin Booker).[1][30] On March 10 he was one of 26 players selected for the April 18, 2014 Jordan Brand Classic again along with fellow Chicagoans Okafor and Alexander as well as along with fellow Kentucky commits Towns, Lyles, and Booker.[31] He was named Associated Press Class 4A 1st team All-state with Alexander, Brunson, Okafor and Sean O'Mara.[32] Ulis finished third to Okafor and Alexander in the Illinois Mr. Basketball voting.[33] He was the runner-up in both the skills competition and the three-point contest at the McDonald's All-American Game.[34] He was a 2014 USA Today third team All-USA Boys Basketball Team selection.[35]

The decision by Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison on whether to enter the 2014 NBA draft would be the determining factor on whether Ulis became an immediate starter or not. Many thought Andrew would be Calipari's seventh consecutive point guard to declare for the NBA Draft after his freshman season, but that Ulis would likely last much longer at Kentucky.[36][37] On April 25, the Harrisons announced that they would be returning to Kentucky.[38]

Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight Commit date
Tyler Ulis
Chicago Heights, IL Marian Catholic (IL) Script error: No such module "convert". Script error: No such module "convert". Sep 13, 2013 
Scout:75px   Rivals:75px   247Sports:75px    ESPN:75px
Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: 20, 3 (PG)   Rivals: 21  ESPN: 25, 4 (IL), 4 (PG)
  • Note: In many cases, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN may conflict in their listings of height and weight.
  • In these cases, the average was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.


College career

Ulis was named to the 36-man 2014–15 Bob Cousy Award Preseason Watch List and the Wayman Tisdale Award Watch List.[39][40] Ulis quickly earned a reputation as a difference makers whose contributions may not be obvious in the statistics.[41] On December 10, he was sidelined with an injury.[42] Ulis posted a career high 14-points on December 27 against Louisville in the Kentucky–Louisville rivalry game known as the The Battle For The Bluegrass, earning the MVP of the game from the The Bluegrass Sports Commission.[43][44] On December 29, his effort was recognized with an SEC Freshman of the Week honor.[45][46] Following the season, he was named to the 8-man 2015 SEC All-Freshman Team.[47] Kentucky went undefeated in its first 38 games before losing to Wisconsin in the final four of the 2015 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.[48] Ulis led the team in assists per game.[49]


  1. ^ a b Borzello, Jeff (2013-01-29). "Players announced for McDonald's All-American Game". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2013-01-29. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Narang, Bob (2013-01-12). "Tribune/WGN-Ch. 9 Athlete of the Month - Marian Catholic's Tyler Ulis". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  3. ^ a b c Helfgot, Mike (2012-02-02). "Boys basketball - Spotlight on Marian Catholic's Tyler Ulis". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  4. ^ Helfgot, Mike (2012-11-21). "Boys basketball - Top 5 conferences at a glance". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  5. ^ Henricksen, Joe (2014-01-29). "Henricksen: Okafor, Alexander and Ulis took different paths to McDonald's game". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  6. ^ a b Helfgot, Mike (2013-01-31). "Boys hoops blog - Ulis stands pat as stock soars". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  7. ^ Helfgot, Mike (2013-03-08). "Boys hoops blog - Helfgot tackles sectional final exams". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  8. ^ Helfgot, Mike (2013-03-11). "Boys hoops blog - Helfgot breaks down supersectionals, picks winners". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  9. ^ Liesse, Bill (2013-03-12). "Boys hoops - 4A supersectional: Edwardsville too tall a task for Marian". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  10. ^ "Mount Carmel's Buss, Simeon's Parker win Ms., Mr. Basketball". Chicago Tribune. 2013-03-25. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  11. ^ Helfgot, Mike (2013-03-30). "2013 Tribune All-State first team". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  12. ^ a b Powers, Scott (2013-08-16). "Ulis receives Kentucky offer". ESPN. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  13. ^ a b Powers, Scott (2013-08-08). "Marian Catholic's Ulis trims list to 4 schools". ESPN. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  14. ^ Powers, Scott (2013-09-03). "PG Ulis down to 3 after eliminating USC". ESPN. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  15. ^ Stainbrook, Michael (2013-09-13). "Boys hoops - Marian Catholic's Tyler Ulis picks Kentucky". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  16. ^ "Kentucky Lands Four-Star PG Tyler Ulis". SLAM Magazine. 2013-09-14. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  17. ^ Rayno, Amelia (2013-09-26). "Tyus Jones cancels Kentucky visit + Gophers recruiting notes". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  18. ^ Helfgot, Mike (2013-11-27). "Boys hoops - Top 5 Mr. Basketball candidates". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  19. ^ Helfgot, Mike (2013-12-07). "Boys hoops - Young falls to St. John Bosco at Elite Classic". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  20. ^ Sondheimer, Eric (2013-12-07). "Boys' basketball: Etiwanda wins in Chicago to improve to 5-0 [Updated]". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  21. ^ Helfgot, Mike (2014-01-23). "Boys hoops blog - Tyler Ulis, Jalen Brunson matchup should be a blast". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  22. ^ Henricksen, Joe (2014-01-24). "Henricksen: Tyler Ulis vs. Jalen Brunson". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  23. ^ Helfgot, Mike (2014-01-25). "Boys hoops - Jalen Brunson, Stevenson hold off Marian Catholic". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  24. ^ Helfgot, Mike (2014-02-23). "Boys hoops - Tyler Ulis outdoes Evan Boudreaux as Marian tops Lake Forest". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  25. ^ Arvia, Phil (2014-03-11). "Bloom no match for Ulis, Marian". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Retrieved 2014-03-13. 
  26. ^ Disabato, Pat (2014-03-11). "Boys Basketball: Ulis three-mendous in Marian Catholic’s win over Bloom". SouthtownStar. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  27. ^ Cronin, Tim (2014-03-18). "Class 4A Illinois State Super-Sectional". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Retrieved 2014-03-19. 
  28. ^ Disabato, Pat (2014-03-18). "Boys Basketball: Marian Catholic stumbles vs. Edwardsville in OT in supersectional". SouthtownStar. Retrieved 2014-03-19. 
  29. ^ Phillips, Scott (2014-04-18). "Chicago duo Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander earn MVP honors as East beats West in Jordan Brand Classic". NBC Sports. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  30. ^ "Final Rosters Unveiled For The 2014 McDonald's All American Games: 48 Players Join the Ranks of Basketball's Elite with Selection to 2014 Team". PR Newswire. 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2013-01-29. 
  31. ^ "Jordan Brand Classic roster revealed". ESPN. 2014-03-10. Retrieved 2014-03-10. 
  32. ^ "Boys hoops - AP announces 3A, 4A all-state teams". Chicago Tribune. 2014-03-22. Retrieved 2014-03-23. 
  33. ^ "2014 Mr. Basketball of Illinois voting". Chicago Tribune. 2014-03-29. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  34. ^ Helfgot, Mike (2014-03-31). "Alexander on Kansas: 'I wouldn't mind staying two years'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  35. ^ Halley, Jim (2014-04-08). "2014 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Basketball Team". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-04-11. 
  36. ^ Johnson, Chris (2014-04-03). "At 5-9 and 145 pounds, Tyler Ulis could be a revolutionary point guard for John Calipari". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2014-05-17. 
  37. ^ DeCourcy, Mike (2013-09-13). "Tyler Ulis breaks mold by giving Kentucky a four-year point guard". Sporting News. Retrieved 2014-05-17. 
  38. ^ Katz, Andy (2014-04-25). "Harrison twins staying at Kentucky". ESPN. Retrieved 2014-04-25. 
  39. ^ Vecenie, Sam (2014-11-04). "Bob Cousy Award Preseason Watch List for 2015 released". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2014-11-12. 
  40. ^ "Five Named To USBWA Watch List". 2014-11-24. Retrieved 2014-11-25. 
  41. ^ Himmelsbach, Adam (2014-11-30). "Cats' Ulis has that special 'it'". The Courier Journal. Retrieved 2014-12-11. 
  42. ^ "No. 1 Kentucky shakes off slow start to survive Columbia scare". ESPN. Associated Press. 2014-12-10. Retrieved 2014-12-11. 
  43. ^ "No. 1 Kentucky shuts down No. 4 Louisville in battle of unbeatens". ESPN. Associated Press. 2014-12-27. Retrieved 2014-12-29. 
  44. ^ Story, Mark (2014-12-27). "Mark Story: Freshmen come to the rescue when Kentucky needs them most". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved 2014-12-29. 
  45. ^ "Ulis Named SEC Freshman of the Week: Becomes the fourth different Wildcat freshman to earn a weekly honor this season". CBS Interactive. 2014-12-29. Retrieved 2014-12-29. 
  46. ^ "Tarrant, Ulis named Men's Basketball Players of the Week". 2014-12-29. Retrieved 2014-12-29. 
  47. ^ "2015 SEC Men's Basketball Awards Announced". 2015-03-10. Retrieved 2015-03-10. 
  48. ^ "Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin deny UK perfection, reach title game". ESPN. Associated Press. 2015-04-04. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  49. ^ "Kentucky Wildcats Stats - 2014-15". ESPN. 2015-04-04. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 

External links