John Calipari originally had two point guards in mind for the 2014 class: Tyus Jones and Emmanuel Mudiay. Both were five star prospects and were top ten on every ranking service list imaginable. Mudiay is 6'5'' and Jones is 6'1'', both are the ideal size for Cal's Dribble Drive Offense. But as the weeks and months wore on, it became clear that Jones was going to be a package deal with Jalil Okafor and said package was likely headed to Duke. Cal put all of his eggs in the Mudiay basket, only to see him choose Larry Brown and the SMU Mustangs over the Wildcats in a shocking move.
With the Harrison Twins almost assuredly leaving their freshman season for the NBA, John Calipari set his sights on a consensus four star, 5'9'' player named Tyler Ulis. He jumped at the chance at an offer from UK and eventually picked the 'Cats over Michigan State and Iowa.
Since then, Tyler's stock has skyrocketed. ESPN, Scout and Rivals all have him listed as a five star player. He is the 25th best player in the country according to ESPN, the 20th best player in the country according to Scout, and the 21st best player in the country according to Rivals. He made a big impression during the McDonald's All American practices, skills competitions and in the game itself.
Sports Illustrated went as far as to call Ulis a "revolutionary" point guard for John Calipari. SI also stated that Ulis could very well be the SEC Freshman of the Year, which would be a tall ask considering that Andrew Harrison returned as Glenn recently covered.
Ulis' impact may not be on the floor during game time. It was well known Andrew and his brother Aaron struggled to guard small, quicker players. Ulis is the exact type of player the Harrison Twins found difficult to defend. His skill set on offense will be absolutely crucial in improving the defensive prowess of Andrew and Aaron during practice. Ulis will push them to become better players; just as he will become better being challenged by much bigger guards.
And how does Ulis feel about the return of the Twins? According to his father, he is all about the team:
For me, obviously Tyler, he picked Kentucky because it was the best choice for him. It had nothing to do with who was there this year or who was there the previous year. That's what he wanted to do. Tyler has always been a team-first guy. Tyler is about the team. He wants to play with great players. That's why he picked Kentucky, and there's no surprise (because) there are always going to be great players at Kentucky or any of the high-level college programs. It's exciting for me because even when I moved him up a couple years ago on the Meanstreets (travel club), there were two guards who are at Illinois right now on that team. Tyler fit in well with them. He played his role. He's a team-first guy, so I have no worries and I'm confident enough in his game as well that he'll get time on the floor.
Ulis' senior season mix tape is an impressive collection of his shooting ability, his passing skills, his quickness, and his affinity for breaking ankles. He is going to be special and will solidify the point guard position for years to come.