With Tyler Ulis taking his highly anticipated official visit to Lexington next weekend, its time to regroup from the Mudiay fiasco and fully look towards the players who will be joining Kentucky next season. If you believe all of the rumors in the recruiting world (please don’t), all signs point to Kentucky now being a solid favorite in the race for Ulis, the 5’8″ offensive wizard out of Marian Catholic. The rumors do not even stop there as the Twitter world has been buzzing that Ulis may even commit on his visit. This is all speculation of course, but, for the sake of predicting the 2014 class, let’s assume Ulis does become a Cat in the near future.
We have been through the strengths of Ulis many times on this site. Court Vision. Basketball IQ. Ball Handling. Shooting. However, Ulis’ biggest strength may not even be something he directly controls. Elite players like to play with point guards that make their teammates’ play shine as bright as possible. Ulis is the prototypical floor general that seems to facilitate offense for his team at a level rarely found in young point guards. The AAU circuit has become such an isolation style of play that facilitators like Ulis are very few and far between. If Ulis would become Cat, Kentucky’s already appealing draw becomes even more appealing. The fact is five star players will always prefer to play with a point guard who is well-known for dishing out gaudy assist numbers night in and night out.
Want proof? Jayson Jordan of USA Today tweeted out several weeks ago about stud shooting guard Devin Booker’s desire to play with Tyler Ulis in college. Devin Booker is the type of shooting guard that John Calipari loves to have in his offense. In the mold of Doron Lamb, Booker has a serious knack for the 3 pointer along with superb passing for his position. Ulis’ fanclub does not end with Booker. Fellow Chicagoan and massive individual Jahlil Okafor may want to be a package deal with Tyus Jones, but he has always spoken highly of Ulis’ elite point guard skills. Okafor and Ulis will visit Kentucky at the same time and will have plenty of time to discuss playing with each other in college. This may not be enough to break up Jones and Okafor, but any edge on grabbing the best center in the nation cannot be overlooked.
The domino effect does not end with the class of 2014 either. Tyler Ulis played on Team Meanstreets in AAU along with another player with a Kentucky offer, 2015 guard Charles Matthews. One of the top rated shooting guards in 2015, Matthews is a high 2015 priority for Calipari along with arguably the best player in 2015, Malik Newman. If Calipari is able to sway Ulis to Kentucky, the path to Matthews becomes that much easier with a close friend already in the program as well as a relationship with the AAU program.
While players like Trey Lyles, Stanley Johnson, and Rashad Vaughn have not directly indicated that they want to play with Ulis in college, it is safe to assume playing with a point guard with elite court vision is preferable to these UK targets. The whole recruiting world knows Tyler Ulis is going to be a special player in college, but Ulis’ ability to attract talent to play around him may end up being the untold story of the long, twisted road of 2014 Basketball Recruiting.
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