Kentucky All-American Tyler Ulis is not the shortest player at the NBA Combine. He was measured as 5-foot-10 (with shoes) and 5-8 ¾ (without shoes).
The shortest player at the Combine is Kay Felder (Oakland), who measured at 5-9 ½ (with shoes) and 5-8 ¼ (without shoes).
Ulis sounded unfazed by not being the shortest player.
“It doesn’t make me feel any sort of way,” he said with a chuckle. “We’re basically the same size. … It’s funny to see us next to each other.”
Ulis said he and Felder had different games: Felder more the scorer, Ulis more the facilitator and team leader.
“He’s an inspiration,” Ulis said, “because he’s my size doing things they say I can’t do.”
Ulis and Felder were finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, which goes to the nation’s best point guard. Ulis won the award.
Ulis weighed less than any player at the Combine. He weighed 149 pounds. Felder weighed 177.2 pounds.
The second-lightest player at the Combine is North Carolina point guard Marcus Paige, who weighed 163.8 points.
Ex-Cat Jamal Murray was among a small group of players who did not participate in all the Combine activities.
Several players, including Skal Labissiere, Ulis and Murray, did not play in the Combine games.
Murray was among only three players who declined to do the media interview sessions. The other two were Brandon Ingram (Duke) and Buddy Hield (Oklahoma).
Murray and Ingram also declined to be measured in what the NBA calls “anthropometic stats,” which involve the size and proportion of the human body. It measures reach, wingspan, height (with and without shoes), weight, percentage of body fat and length and width of hands.
Among the anthropometric findings:
Marcus Lee (8 foot, 11½ inches) had a longer reach than Labissiere (8-9½). Lee also had a longer wingspan: 7-3 to Labissiere’s 7-2½.
Neither were among the bulkiest players. Labissiere weighed 215.8 pounds, Lee 211.
Games people play
For what it’s worth, Lee had as many fouls (four) as combined points (two) and rebounds (two) in his Combine game.
Teammate (and former UK teammate) Kyle Wiltjer scored 17 points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds in the game.
In the other game, former Louisville player Chinanu Onuaku scored a team-high 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Chad Ford, a NBA Draft analyst for ESPN, downplayed the importance of game performances at the Combine.
Only two players in last year’s Combine games were first-round picks: Terry Rozier (Louisville) and Larry Nance, Jr. (Wyoming), Ford said.
Fourteen players were second-round picks. The majority of participants (19 of 35) were not drafted.
A Chicago-based reporter suggested to Ulis that his toughness was a product of his connection to the Windy City. Ulis did not accept this premise.
“I’m actually originally from Lima (Ohio),” he said. “So I get my toughness from when I was a young age playing around Lima, then coming here in the summer and playing in the parks.”
Then Ulis suggested geography alone does not explain his palpable resolve fearlessness.
“As a smaller guard, I don’t have a choice,” he said. “I have to go out there and fight and be tough.”
Skal Labissiere has been compared to as many as three different players.
When he came to Kentucky, he was hailed as the second coming of Karl-Anthony Towns. UK Coach John Calipari tried diligently to make Labissiere add a low-post game to his arsenal just as Towns did.
“But, the No. 1 player in (UK’s) class was not as good as the No. 1 player last year,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. “Karl-Anthony Towns and Skal Labissiere were two completely different deals.”
Labissiere also had to deal with expectations of being another Anthony Davis.
“I got a lot of that before I got here,” he said. Asked if this comparison was accurate, Labissiere said, “I don’t know. We have different styles.”
It would seem Labissiere is like Cheick Diallo of Kansas. Both were heralded freshmen who did not take college basketball by storm. Both are at the Combine. Diallo scored 18 points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked four shots in a Combine game Wednesday. Labissiere is not playing at the Combine.
Bilas did not accept this comparison. Diallo, a raw talent, played behind older players at Kansas, Bilas said. “Skal fell behind and never caught up.
“Both are going to require time to develop, but they had different starting points.”