A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Keith Taylor: Tyler Ulis opts for the NBA Draft, set to ‘open next chapter’ of his playing career

Tyler Ulis is taking his act to the next level.

The Kentucky sophomore guard officially declared for the NBA Draft Wednesday, becoming the third Wildcat to leave the squad in less than a week. Jamal Murray announced his future plans last Friday, while Skal Labissiere opted against returning for a second season on Tuesday.

 Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis declared for the NBA Draft Wednesday, becoming the third player to leave the program for the next level in less than a week (Bill Thiry Photo)

Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis declared for the NBA Draft Wednesday, becoming the third player to leave the program for the next level in less than a week (Bill Thiry Photo)

“I feel like I’m ready to open the next chapter of my life,” said Ulis, who plans to hire an agent. “It was a tough decision, but I feel like with the season I had, I feel like it’s time and I’m prepared. This will be the best opportunity for me (to enter the draft) and I feel like we’re ready for that next step.”

Ulis admitted that he “always wanted a national title,” during his planned two-year stay at Kentucky, but the lure of achieving the dream of playing in the NBA overcame his short-term college ambition.

“I feel like this is what’s best for me and my family,” he said. “It’s a dream come true. I’ve dreamed about this all of my life.”

The dream of playing professionally formulated for Ulis in elementary school and has stuck with him since he began playing organized basketball.

“He’s always been a great teammate and very focused on working hard,” Ulis’ father, James Ulis said. “He never cared what anyone thought of him. He just always went out and played for the team. I’m just very, very happy for him. We have to make tough decisions in life, but we feel like this was the best decision for him. It wasn’t rushed and it was well-planned out. We’re just excited about the next chapter of his life.”

In looking back at his career with the Wildcats, Ulis said he’s proud of accomplishments and development as a vocal leader on and off the court.

“I gave all I had in every game I played and I tried to do that through injuries and stuff like that,” Ulis said. “I feel like I just always tried to leave it out there floor and do what I needed to do for my team.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari ranked Ulis as one of the top point guards he’s coached in his career.

“I’ve coached a lot of great leaders and great point guards in all my years of coaching. Tyler Ulis is the best floor general that I’ve ever coached,” Calipari said. “What I loved is he grew into that position. You couldn’t speed him up and you couldn’t slow him down unless he wanted to do one of those things. He coached the team this season as much as I did, and I’m proud to say that.

“Tyler did it on both ends of the floor. Being named the defensive player of the year in the SEC is quite an honor if you look at the past award winners. On the offensive end, not only was he efficient, he accounted for 17.3 points and 7.0 assists per game.”

Although short in stature at 5-foot-9, Ulis isn’t concerned about his size and his ability to compete at the next level. Ulis, the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and a consensus All-American, is prepared for the obstacles that loom on the horizon.

“I don’t look at it as I’m trying to be the best shortest player to ever play the game,” he said. “I want to be the best in general.”

Keith Taylor is a columnist and senior sports writer who covers University of Kentucky athletics for KyForward.com He can be reached on twitter @keithtaylor21

Related Posts

Leave a Comment