There's no question that Tyler Ulis has been the MVP of the Kentucky Wildcats' this season, and the rest of the college basketball world is taking notice of how well the sophomore point guard playing.
While many expected Ulis to be one of the nation's better point guards this season, few saw him having the kind of year he's having that now has him in the running for national awards.
In 12 SEC games, Ulis has averaged 19.4 points, 7.6 assists and just 1.8 turnovers per game while leading the Wildcats to first place in the league. Over his last eight games, those numbers jump to 21.3 points, 7.8 assists and 1.6 turnovers per contest.
In the midst of Ulis' rise to national prominence, Sports Illustrated's Brian Hamilton did an awesome piece on the Wildcat floor general. It talks about Ulis' upbringing, his rise from unheralded high school guard to Player of the Year candidate, and a great story about Ulis' friend, John Oliver III, who was born without a left hand and how it ended up helping Ulis.
When they shared the floor, Oliver helped Ulis become an even better passer, in their high school coach's estimation: Ulis had to place the ball that much more precisely to a teammate who didn't have two hands to snatch it. (Oliver concedes Ulis' vision resulted in a few surprise dishes caught with his sternum.) But nothing connected them like Oliver's belief that a physical limitation was not a limitation at all.
"The things he did on the court without having that left hand were just amazing," Ulis says. "He never got down, he never really even talked about it. The crazy passes I threw in high school, he caught them, finished, blocked shots. He played 100% every time. That's something I took from him as well: He played so hard even though he didn't have that hand. He didn't really care. He just fought through it and didn't make any excuses."