As Kentucky All-American point guard Tyler Ulis declares for the NBA draft, we begin to look back on the pure magnificence that has been Ulis' collegiate career at Kentucky.
When Big Blue Nation looks back at everything that Tyler has done for the team, all we can say is, Thank You.
Thank you, Ulis, for first and foremost giving it everything you possibly could game in and game out for Kentucky. You carried an entire team on your back this season, an entire state; you carried everything that resembles a true Kentucky Wildcat on your shoulders.
You were a leader, a captain, a coach on the court at times when John Calipari couldn't be there. By doing so, you ended up having the most assists in a single season in Kentucky history, and the respect of a nation. We thank you for that.
Tyler, we also thank you for what you did for the Kentucky name. Kentucky basketball stands as one of the most hated sports programs in the entire sports world, yet you did the seemingly impossible. You made Kentucky like-able, for basketball fans everywhere.
While people outside of Big Blue Nation still didn't like UK at all, you gave everybody someone to root for. You weren't just a good story to tell, you were a phenomenal player that had the whole country behind you every step of the way.
Common fans were turning into Kentucky games just to watch you work. You proved that Kentucky wasn't all about simply one-and-done players and playing to get college over with. Throughout this season and throughout the rest of your future, you will have limitless support from so many people. Not just because you were an underdog, but because you were a true warrior.
Lastly, Tyler, thank you for being a role model. You accomplished what a lot of people said you couldn't, became a player that nobody thought you could be. What you lacked in size, you made up for in heart. A scrawny 5'9" kid from Ohio became one of the best players to ever play for arguably the greatest program in college sports history. The same kid became a First Team All-American, earning the title as the best point guard in the nation. The same kid went from a nobody to a likely NBA draft lottery pick.
Not every athlete is gifted with the absurd height and huge size and the natural physical gifts that we see in star college players. Ulis didn't need that, and you showed that a kid of that size can be something special. We can look at Lebron James and wander at his size and physical gifts.
Tyler has given and will continue giving an inspiration; a motivation to all young athletes that are always told that they're too short or too small. They can tell themselves that if they work hard enough and keep getting better, that they can become just like Tyler Ulis did. That is what is truly special, and what you can never take away from somebody. We thank you so, so much, for all of it Tyler.
As you take the next step in your career, know that what you accomplished this year will never be forgotten.