NBA draft profile: Kentucky PG Tyler Ulis


Tyler Ulis

Position: Point guard

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 149 pounds

School: Kentucky

Ulis declared for the NBA draft following his sophomore year in which he averaged 17.3 points, 7.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds at Kentucky. Last season, he earned first-team All-American honors and was named Bob Cousy Point Guard of the year, SEC Player of the Year and SEC Defensive Player of the Year, among other accolades.

The undersized point guard believes he can make a big impact at the pro level. Leading up to the draft, Ulis will try to show NBA teams he can play beyond his stature. 

When asked at the combine why he was different than other prospects, Ulis first joked that he was shorter. Then he got serious, listing his strongest abilities.

“I feel like my game’s a lot different, my IQ,” Ulis said. “Not many point guards now are thinking the game the way I think, I don’t think. I feel like my feel for the game is a lot different.” 

Running the point, Ulis topped the SEC with a 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio (2.0 turnovers per game). He also ranked nationally in the top 10 for that category and assists per game. 

Ulis knows how to be crafty with his size to find his shots. He tripled his scoring production from season to season at Kentucky. 

Ulis is undersized. He measured in as the second-shortest player at the combine, 5-foot-10 in shoes and 5-foot-8.75 inches without. Ulis has shown he can still be effective in multiple areas of the game at the collegiate level, but the transition to the NBA can pose challenges facing bigger components in the pros. Even if he finds ways to score around them, there still will be mismatches on defense. 

Offensively, Ulis’ three-point production dropped his sophomore year from 42.9 percent as a freshman to 34.4 percent. He also has to gain weight in the NBA. 

How he'd fit with the 76ers
The Sixers have a glaring need for a point guard. Ish Smith is entering free agency and the team could fill that role through the draft. The Sixers have more than enough scoring options in the front court (especially if they draft a forward with the No. 1 pick). Ulis could be one of their floor generals to facilitate for those bigs. Brett Brown considers the point guard to be the most important position. 

NBA comparison
Ulis has looked to Celtics All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas as inspiration, and it is easy to draw comparisons between the two. Thomas also is undersized (listed at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds) and has used his speed, craftiness and court vision to become a difference maker in the league. 

Draft projection
Ulis is projected to be a late first-round draft pick. He could be available at the Sixers’ 24th or 26th picks.

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