The Phoenix Suns got a steal in Tyler Ulis.
That was a statement screamed throughout the Bluegrass as the former Kentucky Wildcats great fell into the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft. The entire NBA effectively passed on Ulis in favor of internationals no one knew of, college role players with 'upside', and several guys who will be out of the league by the time Ulis is signing his next NBA contract.
Alas, when you're 5-8 and barely hitting 150 lbs while dealing with a rumored hip issue, it's not too surprising to see that many teams gaffe on this prospect.
But if Devin Booker had been running an NBA team, Ulis falling to Round 2 would have never happened.
"You take all these European guys that they play three minutes per game overseas, but you're right here, you see Tyler playing on the biggest stage in college basketball and performing, "Booker said at the John Calipari Shooting Camp. "But I'm glad it happened how it did.
"Now, we get to be teammates again and he's just proven to everybody all you have to do is watch basketball, honestly. The proof is in the pudding. If you turn on TV and watched him play last year you see he belonged in the NBA. He has a bright future ahead of him. I'm proud to be his teammate again and I think it's going to be really fun in the future."
While Booker is clearly an emerging superstar, he's not at the LeBron James level where he can effectively run his team, but Booker still made sure to stay in Suns management's ear during the draft for them to take Ulis, even if it doesn't take a genius to see Ulis at 34 is homerun.
"Yeah I made a couple calls, but no, he shouldn't have been there, honestly, at 34," Booker said. "Obviously. it's the biggest steal in the draft and that's not just my opinion. He's proven it already in the Summer League. There's a lot of season ahead of him.
"We'll see what happens from there. I've been good friends with him a long time so I know how his career is planned out, how he always has been the underdog. I think it's nothing new to him. He's just going to prove people wrong again."
As if we needed any reminder as to how good Ulis is, he put on a show in the NBA Summer League. Though he was going against NBA-caliber players, Ulis still dominated in the same ways he did so many times in college.
But that was the summer league. The real season is still ahead of Ulis. While it will only be his rookie season, Ulis is probably close to being maxed out in terms of his potential, so Year 1 in the league could go a long way in determining how good of a pro career he has.
Still, Booker made sure to point out that opportunity, or lack thereof, could prevent Ulis from showing his full potential as a rookie. The key will be Ulis being ready to go out and be at his best when that opportunity does arise.
"You never know because when you're a rookie you never know when your time's going to come," Booker said. "I was fortunate enough, well, it was unfortunate that Brandon (Knight) and Eric (Bledsoe) had their injuries, but it opened up an opportunity for me.
"And rookies don't always get that opportunity. If they stayed healthy the whole year I might have been playing five minutes a game. You never know how it's going to happen, but I know his opportunity is going to come, and when that opportunity I'm pretty sure he's going to take full advantage of it."