Tyler Ulis has been proving people wrong his entire life, and after his successful rookie season, John Calipari couldn’t help but serve some crow to those who doubted Ulis could make it at the next level. In an interview with Arizona Sports 98.7 FM this morning, Calipari said he reminded the teams that passed on Ulis what they’re missing out on.
“I talked to three or four teams, like, ‘You understand what you did by passing on Ulis?,’” Calipari said. “(And they said) ‘I knew I was getting this call, you were right.’ So I think Phoenix, with Tyler Ulis, I mean come on now. This kid’s heart, this kid’s ability to do what he does, it’s amazing.”
Their loss is the Phoenix Suns’ gain. The Suns got one of the steals of the draft by taking Ulis with the 34th pick. In a guard-heavy lineup, Ulis averaged 7.3 points and 3.7 assists in 18.4 minutes per game this season. When the Suns decided to rest Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight late in the season, Ulis started and led all rookies in scoring in the month of April with 20.7 points and 6.8 assists per game. That performance was good enough to earn Ulis Western Conference Rookie of the Month, and is further proof that Suns GM Ryan McDonough made the right choice in taking a chance on him, one year after he made Devin Booker a lottery pick.
“Devin Booker coming out there, he was the youngest player in the draft, did not start for Kentucky,” Calipari said. “And Ryan made him a lottery pick? What the hell are we doing? What is that? And then when he takes a 5-foot-6 player that’s 150 pounds, everybody’s like, ‘Are you kidding me? Why would we do that?’ So I don’t know exactly what they’re looking at or what they need or what draft picks they have, but they’ll do their homework. I have a lot of faith in that.”
Listen to the audio of the interview here, or enjoy Ulis’ rookie highlights below: