Tyler Ulis is a consensus top 50 recruit, and is generally thought to be a top 5 point guard in the class of 2014.
Against Tyus Jones in the Peach Jam this year, he scored 22 points and totalled 17 (17!) assists, in what arguably was the biggest stage he’s played on. After all, the Peach Jam features a who’s who of media and college coaches, as well as NBA scouts, who come to watch the top players in the country every year in Augusta, Georgia.
He’s a junkyard dog. He talks trash, he backs it up, and he doesn’t back down from anyone.
And he’s also only 5’8.
But, it’s time for folks to stop worrying about his height, and whether or not he can handle the alleged physicality of playing at this level of college basketball.
He’ll be fine.
In Chicago, he goes up every week against taller players. This isn’t Eastern Kentucky. It’s not uncommon for him to see folks 6’6 or taller on the various circuits that he plays on. Playing in college basketball won’t be a shock to him to see guys that much taller than him.
Ulis can distribute also. Unlike some of Cal’s scoring point guards, Ulis is more of a pass first guard. He’s a good shooter, and can make open shots, but he’s also got good court vision. Being small shouldn’t affect his ability to pass the ball. The only major thing you’d have to worry about in regards to size would be his ability to finish at the rim. The thing about that, though, is that Russ Smith is only 5’11, and he’s not had any trouble finishing at the rim during his tenure at Louisville.
In another newsflash, Ulis didn’t suddenly get short. Most likely, he’s been short his entire life. He learned the game of basketball and had to figure out how to score around taller kids ever since he was in elementary school. Not to brag on myself here, but as a fellow 5’8 guy, I can relate. You had to learn how to use subtle pump fakes, fade-aways, and other little things to create enough space in order to score. You can bet that Ulis has a wide array of tricks up his sleeve to score on guys.
Also, for Ulis, there’s not a better team to practice against than the team he will be joining in order to find even more ways to score over taller guys. In all likelihood, Marcus Lee, Karl Towns, and possibly Dakari Johnson will all be here next year, and they may make up the biggest front line in the country. Who is Ulis going to play against that is any bigger than that? Nobody.
So, stop worrying about his size. He’s a little guy, but he’s got a big heart, and that’s what will make the difference during his time at UK.
Go Big Blue!