Posted: 9:03 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013
Another point guard has earned a spot on the Kentucky Wildcats big board. Enter Tyler Ulis, a 5' 9" point guard from Chicago Heights (IL) Marian Catholic. Ulis took an unofficial visit to Lexington on Friday, and according to multiple sources, received an offer from the coaching staff while in town.
Ulis had previously announced a list of four finalists, including the Michigan St. Spartans, Iowa Hawkeyes, and USC Trojans. Kentucky made that list of four despite not yet extending an offer to Ulis. After watching Ulis play for vaunted AAU program Chicago Meanstreets this summer, Kentucky head coach John Calipari apparently became convinced to offer the playmaking point guard.
Ulis' small stature has barely held him back in prep ball. He currently ranks 44th nationally on the 247 Composite rankings, putting him amongst the best point guards in the nation. A smart decision-maker and efficient player, Ulis has the look of a multi-year contributor and squad leader.
After suffering through a season with questionable point guard play, Calipari appears to have made it his mission to keep a well-stocked bench. The Wildcats added 3* combo guard Dominique Hawkins to complement All-American Andrew Harrison in last year's recruiting class. This year, it wouldn't be a shock to see Kentucky take two point guards, either.
The Wildcats will continue to pursue 5* point guards Emmanuel Mudiay and Tyus Jones, and the Ulis offer doesn't change things. Mudiay arguably remains the top PG target on the board (and a Kentucky lean), while Calipari has chosen to continue to pursue Jones as well. Ulis figures to be a complementary piece in the backcourt, while also serving as a hedge in case neither Mudiay and Jones picks Kentucky.
This summer, Calipari had also closely scouted Josh Perkins, a 4* guard from Aurora (CO) Regis Jesuit. Perkins had previously listed Kentucky amongst his finalists. However, Perkins plans to announce at the end of August, and communications between him and UK's coaching staff appear to have ceased. The Wildcats have also looked in Australian national Dante Exum. At one point, it looked likely that Exum would play some college ball, but he now looks bound for the 2014 NBA Draft.
With the recent offer, it stands to reason that Ulis has jumped Perkins on Kentucky's priority list. There is also speculation that Calipari has one eye in 2015, a class that lacks the top tier point guard depth of 2014. That rationale may have also contributed to the Ulis offer.
For now, Kentucky still has to fend off prohibitive favorite Michigan St. for Ulis while continuing to pursue Mudiay and Jones. But with all three prospects still on the board, Big Blue fans should feel good about Calipari's chances of landing a stout point guard in this class.