Point guard prospect Ulis impressed by Kentucky visit, might decide this week

broberts@herald-leader.comSeptember 10, 2013 

Tyler Ulis, a point guard prospect in the Class of 2014

Update: Tyler Ulis will announce his college decision Friday at approximately 8:20 p.m. ET. Get details on how to watch the announcement.

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks for the Ulis family.

Tyler Ulis — one of John Calipari's top recruiting targets — and his father took an official visit to Iowa two weekends ago.

On Friday, James Ulis drove his son from their Chicago-area home to East Lansing, Mich., for an official visit to Michigan State. After two days there, the Ulises hit the road to Lexington for an official visit to UK.

The father and son were traveling again immediately after Monday night's Alumni Game in Rupp Arena.

"I'm whipped, man," James Ulis said with a laugh Tuesday afternoon.

Ulis and his son aren't ready to relax just yet.

First, Tyler has to make his college decision. James Ulis said that announcement could come as early as this week.

"Tyler and I had a good conversation last night on the drive home," the elder Ulis told the Herald-Leader. "We're going to talk again later today or early tomorrow. I know it's coming. ... I think he's ready for it to be over."

Tyler Ulis — a 5-foot-8 point guard from the Class of 2014 — was making his second visit to Lexington in less than a month. The four-star prospect was in town last month for an unofficial visit. He received a scholarship offer from Calipari during that trip.

Ulis and his father toured the campus again over the weekend, met with coaches, players and support staff and caught up with two other Class of 2014 prospects who were in Lexington for official visits — Jahlil Okafor and Devin Booker.

This trip was timed around UK's Alumni Game, and that event didn't disappoint.

"Had a great time," James Ulis said. "We enjoyed seeing some of the alumni come back on campus, which I think is really cool — to see them come back to their school and interact with fans. And it shows their relationships with the coaches."

Ulis and his father were also impressed with the fans, who nearly filled Rupp Arena for the informal game.

Calipari had two private meetings with the family during the visit, and those fans were a common talking point.

"We talked about Kentucky being a place where the expectations are high," James Ulis said. "You're expected to win and you've got a fan base like no other."

There's a chance that Ulis could be UK's starting point guard in the 2014-15 season if he ends up committing to the Cats. Calipari went through his "this isn't for everybody" routine, and asked a simple question of the point guard recruit.

"Do you want to be on this type of pedestal where expectations are high?" Calipari said, according to Ulis' father. "Kentucky fans want to win and they want to win now. There's not much room for error. And I enjoyed that he said that, and he said it on both (visits). That's great to hear. If you want to play at this level, there's going to be high expectations. And I think Tyler welcomes that."

Kentucky is still actively recruiting five-star point guard Tyus Jones — Calipari was scheduled to meet with Jones in Minnesota on Tuesday — and UK has already offered several top guards from the Class of 2015.

Ulis isn't projected as a one-and-done draft pick. He and his father are well aware that Calipari is continuing to recruit Jones, and they know about the other guards on UK's radar.

"Anywhere he goes in college, there's going to be competition," James Ulis said. "I don't care where you're playing college basketball, the coach isn't going to stop recruiting players. We know that. Everyone recruits the best players they can each year. And he accepts that.

"He's been watching Kentucky basketball for a while. He understands that they're going to recruit the best."

Calipari, Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Iowa's Fran McCaffery all want Ulis to be their floor leader in 2014.

Izzo and McCaffery have had longer relationships with the Ulis family. But many recruiting analysts consider Kentucky the favorite.

James Ulis says it'll be a tough choice for Tyler to make, and a tough task to tell two of those coaches that he won't be playing for their school.

"We've known Fran for a long time, and I call him my friend," he said. "He's a great guy and Tyler has really gotten to know him. You can't just throw that out the window. And the same with Izzo.

"But ultimately, it's going to be about what's best for Tyler. This is a decision he gets to make, and it's a big decision for him. ... And the three schools that are left? You can't argue with it — those are all great schools."

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats.Blog: ukrecruiting.bloginky.com.

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