He may only be 5’9”, but Tyler Ulis is the big man on campus right now. The diminutive point guard from Chicago took a visit to Lexington today and walked out with a scholarship offer from head coach John Calipari per his AAU team Twitter account @nikemeanstreetschi. Ulis already has offers from Michigan State, Florida and Vanderbilt, among many others. He is ranked the 38th best overall player in the 2014 class by ESPN, and eighth best point guard. If those numbers seem a little low for a Calipari recruit, keep this in mind. Ulis is currently ranked higher than Willie Cauley-Stein and Eric Bledsoe.
John Calipari’s main focus at point guard seems to be the recruitment of Emmanuel Mudiay and Tyus Jones. Mudiay has always been rumored to favor Kentucky, and Jones has always been tied to Duke. Ulis has an extremely quick first step, high basketball IQ and is not afraid to get in the lane. His ability to create off the dribble and get to the rim could make him the next star point guard in Lexington if he chooses that route.
In Kentucky’s style of offense, you will usually see a point guard around 6’3” or so. Does John Calipari have an issue with smaller point guards? No, it’s weaker point guards that suffer in his system.
Think of Ryan Harrow last season, his lack of strength and mental toughness plagued the Wildcats for most of the year. Marquis Teague and Eric Bledsoe were both shorter than 6’3”, but had the mentality and toughness Calipari likes. I’m a huge fan of the Muggsy Bogues and Spud Webb’s of the world, and this kid is a special talent.
Ulis is definitely good enough to play at Kentucky, and he would stay for more than one year. The Class of 2015 is not loaded with high level talent at point guard, so Calipari can use a guy like Ulis to develop his game and get better during his time in Lexington. He will not be counted on to immediately contribute or be a “one-and-done” player, and that could be an advantage for Ulis.
While the prospects of having Ulis at Kentucky are nice, I can’t really see him going there right now. John Calipari can definitely recruit in Chicago (Derrick Rose, Anthony Davis), but I think Ulis is more of a Michigan State lean.
The Spartans have a family connection with Ulis’ cousin Travis Walton playing four years there. Tom Izzo always recruits well and has a great program for a tough minded point guard. Calipari usually gets what he wants at point guard, but Izzo may have the inside track with this one.
Brian Lewis is an SEC Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. You can add him to your network on Google for more of his work.