When it comes to size, Tyler Ulis is not a typical John Calipari point guard. Standing at only 5-foot-8, he can be viewed as diminutive compared to other guards that have graced Kentucky‘s campus. In the Calipari-era at Kentucky, his most vertically challenged guard was Eric Bledsoe in 2010. Ulis is still four to five inches smaller than Bledsoe, but they have a trait in common that Calipari really likes. The physically tough, bulldog nature was lacking from the Wildcats last season. Ulis has plenty of toughness and ability to run John Calipari’s offense. Bledsoe also proved that smaller guards can play in Calipari’s system and succeed. While the toughness will be there, Ulis may have another key trait that will be essential to Kentucky if he signs on the dotted line.
While Ulis becomes Plan B after losing Emmanuel Mudiay, Kentucky could vastly benefit from Mudiay staying home. Tyler Ulis already has a reputation of being a point guard that likes to dish out a lot of assists. Other top players have taken notice and have publicly noted they would like to play with Ulis in college. Fellow Chicago native and No. 1 center prospect Jahlil Okafor is one of them. Okafor has a long-standing bond with former No.1 point guard Tyus Jones. The duo have always been rumored to be a packaged deal, and I don’t know if Ulis would have the power to break that up if he wanted to play with Okafor in Lexington. However, he may not have to. I firmly believe Tyus Jones lack of interest in Kentucky stemmed from not wanting to play with Emmanuel Mudiay. Now that Mudiay is out of the picture, would he team up in Lexington with Okafor and Ulis?
Mississippi shooting guard Devin Booker is also targeted on the Wildcats radar for 2014. Booker has came out recently and said he and Ulis have been in discussions about being a packaged deal. John Calipari loves Devin Booker’s game because he can flat out shoot the rock from three-point land. Calipari’s dribble drive motion offense is designed for everyone on the court to beat their man off the dribble, specifically the point guard. When the point guard drives into the lane, he has to make the decision to go for the rim or pass it out for an open shot. With Ulis being portrayed as more of a pass-first point guard, he would set up Booker beautifully for the deep ball.
The rewards of adding Ulis may help Kentucky in the 2015 class as well. He currently plays on the same AAU squad as UK targets Charles Matthews and the N0. 1 overall player Malik Newman. Ulis would already be a friend and an ambassador for the Kentucky program, and could be an extra influence on Matthews and Newman.