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Tyler Ulis is better than we ever imagined and it’s only August


John Calipari brings in a point guard every year and every year fans are asked to be patient with their development. It has taken all of Cal’s point guards some time before hitting their stride and becoming the player that can lead a team. John Wall needed time. Brandon Knight needed time. Marquis Teague needed more time. Ryan Harrow needed Andrew Harrison needed time. But Tyler Ulis, I’m not trying to get carried away here, but he is already proving his worth as a floor general and it’s August, people. We’re still months away from the regular season.

Today, Ulis was the star once again, leading all players in scoring and hustle. According to Kyle Tucker, Ulis’ per-40 minute averages in the six Bahama games are 15.4 points, 8 assists, 3.6 turnovers, 2.6 steals. Not to mention, he seems to make every three-pointer. I believe he was 9-for-12 entering today’s game and he added a couple more to that total.

This will be Andrew Harrison’s team when the real basketball begins, but it will be impossible to keep Ulis on the bench for long periods of time. And his best contribution: the young fella is pushing Andrew to become a much better player because Andrew knows there is little room for error with Ulis hungry for his spot.

Can we all agree Ulis is the early fan favorite?

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

76 Comments for Tyler Ulis is better than we ever imagined and it’s only August

  1. Dan
    4:41 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    Of this incoming class, it’s a toss-up between Ulis and Towns. The class seems to fit right in perfectly with the team we already had.

    • Bart Edwards
      6:40 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Those who continually assume the veterans will start are not very astute observers of the game. This will NOT be Andrew Harrison’s team in the fall unless he does a much better job with controlling turnovers and making smarter decisions about when to drive (and get called for charging) and when to pass (which, as you may recall, started us back on the winning path last year).
      Tyler is a better defender and has a DEPENDABLE three point shot — which is a skill that the Harrisons’ both lacked last year, and that cost us many games.
      Booker will soon hit his stride, and Towns might start as well.

    • yo baby
      7:12 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Andrew Harrison has had better stats in most of the games and by the way led us to a championship game last year. He has even averaged more assists and less turnovers. By the way… Ulis in the last 4 minutes missed a 3, turned the ball over and missed a free throw. Ulis is Good but Andrew has earned his spot.

    • TheRealHambone
      7:36 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Hey Bart… I wish they had had you in the Bahamas, they would have gone 6 and 0. Oh no wait a sec… if they had just had you last yr. against UCONN…

  2. ukstu96
    5:05 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    As for me, yes, I completely agree with your post that Ulis is the real deal who is already season ready. When I heard Cal and UK were recruiting him I quickly watched some of his tapes and right off I could see he is one of those players who don’t get the hype they deserve. (Due to his size). Anyway, I’ve been sold on Ulis and even more impressive is his shooting ability he already seems to have. As I’ve mentioned in another post, I think he may be the most valuable freshmen on the team simply because of what he can and will bring to the team. And you bring up a great point; he will PUSH Andrew H to be even better and more productive. I love Ulis’ game and I’m very pleased Cal has him on board! GO CATS!!!

    • CatsRUs
      5:31 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      UKSTu96 is right on completely. I spell Ulis UK # 9!!!. Sure wish we had had him last year; love to see him vs UConn’s Boatright. Lets face it the Harrison’s need to be pushed and Tyler is the guy to do it.
      UKStu96 we had a pretty good year in 96 right?

    • ukstu96
      5:47 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Cats R Us I do believe we in fact had a very great year in 96′ haha… hence my blog name. And you are correct, “if” we had Ulis last year Uconn would not of been able to penetrate so easily. Good point…

    • Luther
      6:42 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Agree except that good point guards are also good, clutch free throw shooters. Ulis was not during this tournament. If he converts the one and one inside the last minute, we win…

    • bigbluetruth
      9:35 pm August 18, 2014 Permalink

      The first time I watched a UK game was with my dad in 1966 at age 8, been a huge fan ever since. I’ve seen a lot of good teams and some deep teams, everyone keeps speaking of the 96 team. No way was the 96 team this deep. I for one am not upset about that, I didn’t think we’d ever see a team that deep again but this one has passed it and the season will prove this.

  3. MAYBE
    5:12 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    With all of this constant never ending praise of every single player and maybe some overexaggerated optomism going on, I think we might be living in fantasy land a little bit. We will be the bigger team, the more athletic team, but i think where we lack is in quickness. With the exception of Ulis (sometimes) our team gets blown by on the dribble in the half court and the other team has been easily getting into the lane. Im talking about the second year players mainly, becase they still continue to play straight up.

    All I’m saying is against superior athletes (than the one’s we played in the Bahamas) like on Zona, Michigan, Louisville, Kansas, etc. they will have an unbelievable ability to get in the lane, and that is where we will struggle. But can we make up with our size, and talent? Yes. Every single game? Maybe not.

    • Jeffrey
      5:15 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Except the twins handled those guards no problem, they’re tired now. No one plays 6 games in 8 days, give them fresh legs, and they’ll be fine defensively.

    • Yeah...
      5:15 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      And our team hasn’t even worked on defense yet… Plus our best shot blocker is out, so there’s that.

    • Player Haters Ball
      5:27 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      “The 2nd year players continue to play straight up.” I’m going to assume “continue” you mean from last year to this year. But didn’t we make it to the National Championship last year? And weren’t those 2nd year players you mention, freshman last year?

    • MAYBE
      5:35 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Yes we did make it to the national championship my point is in a one game scenario if there are great quick guards that can finish in the lane and our lack of ability to keep them out of the lane there is a chance we could lose even with our great team. I think were great but were far from unbeatable like everyone is acting like

    • ukstu96
      5:43 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      You bring a good talking point and that not having enough quickness to stop quicker teams. Last year that lack of quickness is the very dynamic that cost us the game against a “quicker” UCONN team. That being said, I think with Ulis, Booker and Hawkins, the team now has that added dimension to the team that will help against those teams like UCONN. To sum up, I believe this team will be able to defend inside and out each game with no issues.

    • Rixter
      7:08 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      EXCEPT, when Zona, Michigan, Louisville, Kansas, etc drive past our perimeter defenders, we have WCS waiting to swat their shot into the 3rd row.

    • bigbluetruth
      9:39 pm August 18, 2014 Permalink

      You can’t fix stupid. For the first 4 games there Andrew and Aaron played great defense. I’m sorry to say they’re human and to contest your point, if WCS plays in final 4 we hang banner #9. The driving in the lane would’ve been stopped. I know they’ll never be as great as you MAYBE but they’re not too bad for 2nd year players.

  4. bmt22033
    5:13 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    BBN would like to say a big thank you to Emmanuel Mudiay for choosing SMU over Kentucky. πŸ˜‰

    • somerset bill
      8:39 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      yep, i have thought that a couple times during these games. imagine how much different things would look right now. we would be forcing one of the current two guards to learn the point to be the backup. an obvious weak spot on the second squad, where there now doesn’t seem to be one. and we would totally have missed out on the opportunity to see both kentucky and kentucky 1A appear in the same top 10 this year.

  5. Drew, I have to disagree at least slightly on John Wall. His learning curve was was pretty short from what I recall.

    • Bart Edwards
      6:47 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      John Wall’s learning curve was even steeper than Drew lets on. He left UK without being in the Top 100 point guards in Div. 1 in any category except Assist %-age. Because of his freakish athleticism, he was vastly over-rated at UK, and has finally started blossoming in the NBA. His 2009 squad failed to beat even a single team that ended the year ranked in the Top 20. His reckless, freshmonic play against West Virginia cost us a national championship.
      I love the boy, but let’s be honest about our own. UK fans have enough confidence to be honest at least on our own blogs.
      Had we had a top tier point guard last year, we would have won the national championship. Andrew was not the man last year. Maybe he will learn from Tyler, or maybe he will watch from the bench.

    • Lexington 3
      7:34 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Brilliant, Bart. That also explains his First Team All-America and second in Player of the Year voting.

  6. Big Blew
    5:20 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink


  7. jus sayin
    5:20 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    Andrew Harrison has had better stats than Ulis in virtually every game. But I agree Ulis is much better than we thought and he will push Andrew. I just don’t want to see the whole bench the Harrison’s theme like we did last year. They’ve rather their spots.

    • Bart Edwards
      7:04 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      You could not be more wrong as to the stats, especially defensively. Adjusting for minutes, Tyler has been superior in most categories, especially shooting and steals, and the remainder is basically a wash. They have nearly identical stats as to rebounds (Tyler has a slight edge despite Andrew’s superior size), turnovers, and assists, but Andrew gets fewer steals. fouls more often, and can’t shoot worth an Eastern Kentucky dentist (especially from 3, where we need it especially badly). You would have to be blind to think Andrew has the edge.

    • yo baby
      7:23 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Maybe you didn’t get the memo… we have been playing a platoon style system… which means they have basically played the same amount and actually Type played more because of today. They showed the averaged during the game today and AND Andrew was averaging more points and assist than Ulis. Go to UK Athletics and actually look at the box scores instead of just inferring based on your opinions. He’ll Andrew had 7 assists to Tyler’s 3 just yesterday. Tyler played significantly better today. But I think Andrew Has earned the right to play a SINGLE bad game without losing his damn starting spot.

  8. Pat Tanaka
    5:21 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    So, the best player for the DR didn’t play and we still lost? Just heard Garcia didn’t play for them.

    • poppycat
      5:31 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      I also heard that 2 of our best players didn’t play today.
      Can someone confirm?

    • Craig
      5:40 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Also heard that WCS and Lyles aren’t two of our best players, can anyone confirm?

    • Mc
      6:41 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      I also heard that Garcia started for them the first game and they lost by double digits, and were down over 20 in the second half. Maybe we identified their problem?

  9. katdaddy
    5:22 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    I love #3! wasn’t sure at First But this kId looks like he’s been here before. Very high Basketball IQ!

  10. katdaddy
    5:23 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    Thank You Mudiay!

  11. Reality
    5:32 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    We didn’t look dominate the last few games. Plus, dr played short handed.

    • Owned!
      7:59 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Reality check just owned you! That’s good because your act has grown very tired.

  12. WTF?!
    5:33 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    Disappointed there were no photos/profile of the blonde that was sitting at the scorer’s table. C’mon, guys, you are slipping!! πŸ™‚

  13. Mick
    5:34 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    Living in Chicago, I was lucky enough to watch Ulis play quite a few games in high school and fell in love with the young man. When Cal recruited him, my friends in Kentucky said he was to small to play at UK. Like the old saying goes: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the heart in the dog.” Quick and talented folks!

    • Policia
      5:58 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      “Fell in love with him”…man you’re a weirdo.

  14. Truth
    5:35 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    If Andrew Harrison had missed a needed the front end of a 1 and 1 and then commited a turnovers and missed a 3 in crunch time we would be doing nothing but criticizing him. Tyler needs to be more clutch.

    • Luther
      6:51 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Thank you! Finally someone said the obvious. Good point guards are also good free throw shooters and clutch down the stretch. Ulis wasn’t today…

      Still a big fan and I’m sure Ulis will be practicing free throws with Stein, Johnson, and Alpo. Am confident the next time will be better…

    • Bart Edwards
      7:08 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      I disagree that we would be criticizing Andrew for that — we kept giving him a pass when he did it all last year, and we are still doing it on this site, as where Drew says “This will be Andrew’s team later in the season.” There is nothing to back that assertion up. We were only in the game at all because of Tyler’s shooting from three earlier. Compare his 3’s to those of Andrew during the six game run. It isn’t even close.

    • Truth
      7:27 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Haha You are literally the only person following college basketball who thinks Andrew Harrison got a “pass” last year. Saying that makes me question anything you say. He was the most criticized PG in America and for damn sure on this site. He’ll you criticized him 3 times today in one thread… And this post isn’t even about him.

  15. Craig
    5:39 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    How much TIME did John Wall need? Maybe the first half of the first game?

    • Bart Edwards
      7:11 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Man, did you sleep through the season? Watch the NCAA tourney run and repeat what you just wrote. You’ll feel even sillier than you do now. Nothing but turnovers, missed three’s, and jumping up into the air with nowhere to go with the ball. Being a freak athlete does not make you a good point guard. It might get you on SportsCenter, but as Johnny learned, it won’t get you wins. Thankfully, he has learned a great deal in the NBA and is becoming a good leader, and a much smarter player than he ever was here at UK.

  16. NjCat
    6:19 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    Size of the ‘fight’ in the dog…

  17. NjCat
    6:29 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    Ulis missed an awful lot of free throws today. Needs to fix that obviously.

    Love his game though, and he will,definitely make Andrew a better player, especially if it starts costing him minutes. We saw who had the ball in his hands at the end of game today…

    • Luther
      7:38 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Tyler, get Dakar, Alpo, and Stein into the gym frequently to practice free throws. We’ve lost too many games, including today’s, because of poor, unclutch, free throw shooting in the Cal era…

  18. HackRichards
    6:35 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    I laughed several times while reading KSR this summer when you guys were saying Tyler Ulis will be fun to watch for the NEXT 4 YEARS. HaHaHa Hardy Har Har. I’ve always thought we’ll be lucky to keep him 2 or 3. You guys are Racist against short people if that is possible!

    • Peas and Carrots
      6:48 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Ulis will be in college for at least 3. How many 5’9″ guys do you see getting drafted in the NBA?

    • Bart Edwards
      7:14 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      As many as are NBA good — and those would include the even shorter Spud Webb, Earl Boykins, and Muggsy Bogues, each of whom was at least two inches SHORTER than Tyler.

    • Catlanta Fan
      5:09 pm August 18, 2014 Permalink

      I think the term would be prejudice, not racist…lol

  19. UKfaninLou
    6:51 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    Why do we need a favorite? I currently have 10 favorites, hoping to have 12 very soon! I want them all to do well. But yeah. The kid’s exciting for sure.

  20. bosshogg24
    7:08 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    If this is going to be the twins team they will have to hustle more and not quit like they did today. They need to take over in the clutch, turn up the motor and have more fight or Tyler Ulis will be the man!

    • Rixter
      7:15 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      It’s a freakin’ exhibition game, and the 6th one in just over a week. The team looked great the first 4 games, that’s the team we’re gonna see this year.

    • wow
      7:30 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Here we go the twins lead us to the championship game… play 5 great exhibitions against professionals have one clunker and now it’s time to bench them. This why some people hate our fan base.

    • Brian
      8:05 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Did you see the tournament last yeat? You can’t take over any more in the clutch!

    • Brian
      8:06 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      “Yeat” is Yiddish for year.

  21. Rixter
    7:13 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    Didnt see the first half today, but going into this game, Ulis was 1 – 5 on free throws this week, then missed a big front end….that’s going to get you a seat on the bench come crunch time.

    • Bart Edwards
      7:16 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Funny you say that, because it didn’t get the Harrisons benched last year when they REPEATEDLY missed the critical front ends of one-and-ones.

    • Luther
      7:42 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      You’re right! Tyler must quickly learn that D1 point guards are expected to be good, clutch free throw shooters. Right now, he’s not and we lost today’s game, in part, because of it…

    • Kyle
      11:41 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Who was going to replace the Harrison twins last year if Cal decided to bench them? .. Hawkins and Polson. I think I would’ve taken the twins missing free throws.

  22. CatsR US
    7:18 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    I want compare Ulis to some other PG we’ve had but I can’t think of one off hand. I’d like to think he’ll be around 4 years but when a guy is this good, the NBA will notice.

    • Aaron Craft's Rosacea
      9:46 am August 18, 2014 Permalink

      Cliff Hawkins definitely comes to mind

  23. clancyhat
    7:36 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    Subject shift – anyone know / wanna comment on what’s going on over at the Herald ??

  24. Dustin
    8:02 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    Saw this kid in Columbus at the Flyin to the hoops tournament. Even then, I thought he was going to be special and that we flat out had a steal with him. He is going to be special. I;m glad to see him do so well thus far.

  25. Brian
    8:03 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    Imagine having 2 guys who can control the floor. One tall and powerful and the other small and lightening fast. Both can shoot, defend and lead. Oh wait, we don’t have to imagine! All we have to do is tune in during November and witness it. Go Wildcats!

    My question is can these two be worked in during the same line-up?

    Not a rhetorical question. What do you think BBN?

    • Yes
      8:17 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Yes, Cal can!

    • CATandMONKEY
      8:19 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      Ask Bart.
      The rest of the basketball world obviously knows nothing.

    • SuperDave
      11:18 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

      The decision between Harrison vs. Ulis led ineup is a “rich person’s” problem…one I am glad we have. This will hopefully be clearer by November. I think a Ulis + Harrisons lineup would likely work well, if anything, just to try some pick and rolls that cause defensive switch nightmares for other teams.

      Everyone needs to work on Free Throws…Just look at the stat line of the 2014 National Championship…as I recall that ended up just a 2 possession game (but felt like a lot more).

      Ulis would not be drafted in the NBA unless he had 2 or 3 great seasons…just the way it is. People talk about Earl Boykins, Spud, and Muggsy being shorter than Ulis by 1-2 inches…maybe so….but every position in the NBA is on average much taller than it was 20-30 years ago…
      All you have to do is look at where a 5’11” Napier was drafted…that was after 2 National Championships, 87% from the line, clutch shooting, and a great endorsement by LeBron….I know why BronBron loves Napier…Shabazz is also a flop artist… (…How does the ref call that anything but a travel?

      I could easily look this up, but people are talking how this is UK’s 6th game in 8 days…did the other 3 teams also play 6 games a piece? If so…why are people using that as an excuse? Because the other teams are Pros?

      I would really like to see the following lineup, JUST ONCE…Please Cal…just try it…
      Dakari @ C
      WCS @ PF
      Lyles @ SF
      Poythress @ SG
      Towns @ PG

  26. Uncle Rico
    10:03 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    Bart Edwards it’s past your bedtime go down to the basement and go to sleep

  27. DC cat
    11:35 pm August 17, 2014 Permalink

    He’ll, it’s August and people are already dissing Andrew and Tyler…and now saying Wall was over rated! Man, we have some truly absurd “fans”. These people will succeed in running Cal off and drying up recruiting. I’m sure many believe Hay Bilas is flat wrong in his praise of the tea, Tyler and Andrew during the week. So annoying!

    • njCat
      1:32 am August 18, 2014 Permalink

      It’s called being honest. Players get complimented when they do good things and criticized when they miss free throws and get lazy.

      If everyone was like you we’d still have Tubby and Joker.

    • Aaron Craft's Rosacea
      9:52 am August 18, 2014 Permalink

      Yes njCat because six games in eight days is extremely lazy.

  28. Carol
    5:29 am August 18, 2014 Permalink

    I am LOVING watching Tyler Ulis and Karl Towns… I think they will (already are) be special players!

  29. J Adam Brooks
    10:05 am August 18, 2014 Permalink

    I agree that he looks very good I only disagree with the notion that he’s better than we thought he was.

    I was a huge Ulis fan while he was in high school and I thought getting him was a HUGE signing. He’s very very very good and I’ve been high on him for a long time.

    I’m not saying “I told you so” I’m just saying some people were already really high on him before the Bahamas.

    He’s more of a college PG than any Cal has had at UK, he’s small and quick, has a good shot, and great vision. He’s just not a prototypical NBA prospect which for some reason people think is very important.

    He’s going to be here 4 years and be a nightmare for opposing teams for a long time.

  30. kentuck1
    11:24 am August 18, 2014 Permalink

    This Wildcat team is unique. It has two teams with different personalities. They compete against each other as much as they compete against a common opponent.

    One team is more offense-minded and the other is more defense oriented. There are stars on both teams.

    However, there seems to be a problem when the coach tries to mesh one team with the other? Somehow it messes with their chemistry. It confuses their flow of the game. Perhaps, as the season progresses, that will change?

    But, at this early stage, the “platoon” system seems to be the best system for these Wildcats. It allows them to play with more energy and confidence, knowing that they are going to be relieved by a reliable teammate. Whether or not Coach Cal decides to stay with the platoon system is left to be seen? For these Cats, I think it is best. Just my opinion.

    Also, when WCS comes back, he is a better defender and shot-blocker than Dakari. He could be the back-up for “both” teams. It should be noted that Dakari is a better offensive player this year and is running the floor very well and is the most physical player on the team.

    Trey Lyles could be the first sub on the second team or could rotate starts with Willis and still maintain the chemistry that has been created. From what I have seen, he does have a little difficulty with free throws? It also should be noted that Willis has improved dramatically and is consistent with his scoring and rebounding.

    The Cats are two unique teams and both are very talented. The challenge is to find the right system with the right chemistry.