Tyler Ulis ends Kentucky career, enters NBA Draft


After compiling one of the best seasons by a point guard in Kentucky history, Tyler Ulis announced Wednesday he will enter the NBA Draft.

(Photo: Darrell Bird, 247Sports)

“First and foremost, I want to thank God,” Ulis said. “Without Him blessing me with the talent and the opportunity to play the game every day, none of this would be possible. To my family and friends, thank you for the love, support and sacrifices you’ve all made for me. Also, thank you for pushing and influencing me to become the best player I can be and always having faith in my game. To Coach Cal, Uncle KP (Kenny Payne) and the entire coaching staff, thank you for your tireless dedication and commitment to teach us to succeed on and off the court.

“With that being said, I’m ready to take on the challenge of playing at the next level and have declared for the NBA Draft. I will be hiring an agent.

“To all the fans, thank you for supporting me and embracing me from the moment I stepped on the floor. Your enthusiasm and spirit carried me over the last two seasons and you all make it even harder for me to leave.”

After averaging 17.3 points and 7.0 assists as a sophomore, Ulis earned consensus first-team All-American honors, the 21st UK player to accomplish the feat. He won Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, joining Anthony Davis as the only two players to do so. He rewrote record books, eclipsing John Wall’s single-season assist mark and rocketing up to No. 10 all-time in UK history after just two seasons. He had 14 20-point, five-assist games, a Kentucky record, and his three 20-point, 10-assist games are the most by any SEC player in the last 20 seasons.

Ulis scored or assisted on 42.6 percent of UK’s field goals and played 92 percent of minutes possible last season. Against ranked opponents, he averaged 24.4 points and 7.6 assists, both team highs, and shot 54.2 percent with a 3.8 assist-to-turnover ratio in those seven games. In league play, Ulis averaged 8.4 assists with a 4.5 assist-to-turnover ratio.

“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,” head coach John Calipari said in a press release. “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.

“I still remember the comments when we signed Tyler: ‘Cal finally got himself a four-year point guard!’ After two years, at his size, projected as a middle first-rounder – it’s truly an amazing story in itself. I’m going to miss him dearly because now it appears that all the coaching will fall back on my lap.”

Ulis is the third Kentucky underclassmen to declare his intentions to remain in the NBA Draft, joining Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere.

Ulis is projected as a first round draft pick by multiple outlets, including No. 20 by DraftExpress and No. 14 by ESPN’s Chad Ford.

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