THE LIST: Class of 2014 RIvals150
For his entire high school career, Tyler Ulis has been building momentum. Now, the senior from Chicago is full-steam ahead as he rockets up the rankings and closes in on a college decision.
There are bigger point guards than Ulis, but the 5-foot-8, 140-pounder from Chicago Heights (Ill.) Marian Catholic is fearless. He isn't just fearless, he is productive and his work against the nation's best point guards has allowed him to ascend all the way up to No. 33 in the Rivals150.
When asked if his son's meteoric rise can be attributed more to improvement or exposure, Ulis' father James said he sees it as a mixture.
"It's a combination of both," the elder Ulis told Rivals.com. "It's no secret that when you look at rankings, size is going to be a factor. Of course all those ranked guys are skilled, but when you are skilled and have size the potential is there to do things down the road. Tyler has always been one of the most skilled guys, and he's played those guys since the fourth grade, but size has maybe held him back.
"I think seeing him more and him getting exposure to play in front of scouts and up against some of the kids that are considered the better guys has helped. Also, you can't minimize being the point guard of a team and winning, it shows who you are."
One of the quickest players in the class of 2014, Ulis is very effective off of the dribble. He takes and reacts to contact surprisingly well and is thus a better finisher around the rim than one would expect. He can find teammates for shots and is too dangerous of a shooter for defenders to give him big openings.
On top of that, Ulis is a terrific on-the-ball defender.
"He really takes pride in his defense," said Ulis. "He is willing to sacrifice and do what he needs to do. He doesn't slack off and take the lesser of the guards."
Not surprisingly, the recruiting process for Ulis has turned intense. Ulis and his family have things cut down to Iowa, Kentucky and Michigan State.
He's got officials to East Lansing and Lexington coming up between now and Tuesday and was in Iowa City over the weekend. According to Ulis' father, some things stuck out during their visit to get to know the Hawkeyes.
"We just thought how close the team was stood out," said Mr. Ulis. "You can tell Fran McCaffery has focused on basketball, but he's made sure that he and the staff are about family. It was us bonding and getting to know each other and spend time together. It was evident and you could tell that it wasn't made up.
"Every payer was at his house and all of the players interacted with Tyler. The point guards interacted with him the most and that's who he would be fighting with for playing time. His wife and his family seem close to everybody on the team and you can see the commitment to winning."
This weekend, the Ulis family will first drive to visit with Tom Izzo and the Spartans before heading down to see John Calipari's bunch. With two official visits out of the way -- Ulis visited Oregon State in the spring but they have since been eliminated -- the elder Ulis maintains that his son is open and that they haven't changed what they are looking for during their visits.
"Nothing has really changed," said Ulis. "Obviously we want to see and meet the teams and see how the teams and coaches interact. That tells you a lot about chemistry and seeing them off the court tells you a lot about who they are.
"Also meeting the coaches family tells you a lot about the progress. Seeing the facilities is also great."
But it is those interactions with members of the program and each school that will matter the most.
"Ultimately I think it comes down to relationships," said Ulis. "I'm definitely going to be looking at Tyler to see what his attitude is like and how he's feeling. He's a good poker player, but ultimately a 17-year-old and if he likes something I'll see it in his face."
After this weekend there will be no more visits and it will be time to think about a decision. There is no set timetable for making a choice, but chances are it will come reasonably soon.
"We've talked about once he's done with these visits how to do that," said Ulis of making a decision. "We'll probably sit down over the weekend and talk about what he's going to do. He'll probably commit sometime in September, and that's always been the plan. He may look at me and say he needs a few more weeks, and I'll say that's fine because I don't want to rush him.
"But I think he knows it's about time to finish this."
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