Ex-Cats

When ex-Cat Ulis returns from ankle surgery, Phoenix backcourt could have new look

Tyler Ulis of the Phoenix Suns was the NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month in April.
Tyler Ulis of the Phoenix Suns was the NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month in April. AP

Former University of Kentucky standout Tyler Ulis will have to sit out the NBA Summer League this year after undergoing surgery on his right ankle.

The Phoenix Suns said that the rookie point guard underwent a minor surgical procedure in New York City on Wednesday and won’t be able to return to full basketball activity for 12 weeks, which would be early August.

The NBA holds its annual Summer League in July.

Ulis started the final 15 games of the 2016-17 regular season at point guard for the Suns, teaming with former Wildcat Devin Booker in the backcourt. Ulis was the NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month in April when he averaged 20.7 points and 6.8 assists.

Regular starting point guard Eric Bledsoe and backup Brandon Knight, both former UK players as well, have been the subject of trade talks. Plus, the team could use its lottery pick in the June draft on one of several highly rated point guards available.

When Ulis returns to full health, the Suns’ backcourt situation could have a whole new look.

Regular starting point guard Eric Bledsoe and backup Brandon Knight, both former UK players as well, have been the subject of trade talks. Plus, the team could use its lottery pick in the June draft on one of several highly rated point guards available. The Suns have the second-best odds in the lottery of securing the No. 1 overall pick. Markelle Fultz of Washington and Lonzo Ball of UCLA are considered franchise point guards that would be hard for most teams to pass up. Another possibility, if the Suns wish to extend their Kentucky pipeline, is De’Aaron Fox, who is projected as a top-10 draft choice.

Ulis, who was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and SEC Defensive Player of the Year during his final season at Kentucky, played in 61 games as a rookie, averaging 18.4 minutes, 7.3 points and 3.7 assists per game. He made 42.1 percent of his 437 field goal attempts and 26.6 percent of his 79 three-point tries. He had 226 assists vs. 77 turnovers, an almost 3-to-1 ratio.

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