On Wednesday, April 6, 2016, Tyler Ulis said goodbye to the Big Blue Nation. After two years, the 5’9″ sophomore decided to put his name into the NBA draft, fulfilling a dream he’s had since he was in the second grade. After a season in which he was named the SEC Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and was a consensus All American, there’s nothing left for Ulis to prove at the collegiate level. As an added bonus Tyler Ulis also set the Kentucky single season assist record with 246 during the 2015-16 season (Ulis is also 10th on the career list).
Numbers, though impressive, aren’t the best way to capture Tyler Ulis’ impact. Not to be a prisoner of the moment, but it’s hard to recall a point guard in Kentucky history that was in complete control of the game on the offensive and defensive end and was the de facto captain of the team. The promise Ulis showed as a freshman on the 2015 38-1 Final Four team came into fruition this past season. He went from scrappy change-of-pace point guard to The Point Gawd.
The Big Blue Nation is fickle and hard to please. And it’s rare that a player comes along and wins over the fans. Tyler Ulis did that. During the 2015-16 season, with its ups and downs, Ulis was the lone consistent bright spot for most of the fans (*until freshman Jamal Murray turned the corner). Ulis’ play was usually spectacular, his decision-making unmatched. He was so good and so consistent that when he did have a turnover or took a bad shot, the BBN was nearly in stunned disbelief. Tyler Ulis did the near impossible, he carried the BBN with 100% in his favor.
This season didn’t end the way any Kentucky fan wanted to, with the second round NCAA loss to Indiana. But we were able to see one of the great individual seasons in Kentucky Wildcat history by one of the most beloved Wildcats in recent memory. Tyler Ulis will always have a special place in my heart and he will always have a home in the Bluegrass. And to whatever team drafts him: Take care of my Point Gawd.