Guest post: Why I will always love Tyler Ulis

Kentucky fan Krystal Dittus of Florida knows exactly why she will miss Tyler Ulis so  much.

Kentucky fan Krystal Dittus of Florida knows exactly why she will miss Tyler Ulis so much.

Vaught’s  note: Krystal Dittus is a Kentuckian now living in Florida who has remained a die-hard UK basketball fan. She became a huge fan of Tyler  Ulis — as did many of you — and I asked her to share her thoughts on the Kentucky guard.


What is it about Tyler Ulis that made so many of us in Big Blue Nation love him so? His outstanding play has been analyzed countless times in interviews hosted by Tom Leach, discussed on KSR by Matt Jones and Ryan Lemond, and Mark Buerger once said the “Sunday Morning Sports Talk” show should be renamed the “Praise Tyler Ulis Show.”

Even our most beloved UK sports writer, Larry Vaught, has continuously recounted how spectacular Tyler had been this year.

But to me, it was more than him becoming the UK record holder for most assists in a single season, second most in SEC History at 246 assists. More than SEC Defensive Player of the Year, SEC Player of the Year, and MVP of the SEC Tournament. It was more than his mind boggling assist to turnover ratio. It was more than his numerous 20 plus point games. So what is it?

‏When many of us think of Tyler, we recall him bleeding while being the Card killer. We think of him staring down guys a foot taller than him. We recall his spectacular passes and playing Horse with us. And although John Calipari says these guys aren’t machines, Tyler was close.

In a season where sometimes players disappeared, Tyler was always there giving it his all. Game after game he played with such brilliance, it became the norm. We could depend him each and every game, and he put this team on his shoulders all year.

‏But for me specifically, it will always be his inner grit, tenacity, competitiveness, effort, and heart. It will be those qualities that can’t be captured solely by a box score. He never quit on us and always left it all on the court. To me, that is all you can ever ask for from a player.

Shots might not be falling and guys may be bigger than you, but you can always give it your best effort and fight. Tyler always did that, every game he played. With him likely to go pro, all I can do now is remember how blessed we were to have him these two years. Whatever NBA team drafts him will be lucky to have him, just like we have been.

We say “once a Cat, always as Cat”, and those words definitely apply to Tyler. He will always be a part of Big Blue Nation and a part of my heart.


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  1. Great article and totally true. It’s not often your story at Kentucky will start with a confrontation with Demarcus Cousins. If Tyler’s time at Kentucky is through, he will surely be one of the favorite Cats.

  2. Tyler is just a remarkable your man with a skillset, personality, and mindset second to none and is my favorite player of recent years. Apparently he has been devastated with the loss as Murray and all of us have been. Wonder if Poy is devastated? I am just so glad that he is out of here. He seems like a great guy, very intelligent, great personality but did not put the uniform on with pride or make a commitment to playing at his best. I notice that his tweet was thanking the university, teammates, BBN for making him a better man and person. Nothing said about making him a better player because that wasn’t his intention.

  3. It is truly a shame that there are some in the Commonwealth who are so obsessed with a dislike for an early twenty year old young man that his obsession carries into almost every entry he makes to this blog. They take every opportunity to slam a school kid while seated behind their keyboards. It’s tiresome and boring but then I’d guess the messengers are as well. I can see the attitude if the target is a professional making multi millions of dollars each year while playing a game. The UK athletes are students first and the target here is a grad student with a bachelors degree earned with honors. To carry this obsession to the extent it has been demonstrated is not only ridiculous but could indicate mental derangement.
    The sports fan in Lexington has a distinct disadvantage in that it is an extremely small media market. There are no major professional franchises within reasonable distances. There is the university and they draw the wheat and the chaff of the sports enthusiast. Unfortunately the chaff is really loud…………stupid,……..but loud.

    1. Ditto on bad mouthing a young man that chose to bring his talents to our university. Not everyone has the ability to bring it every night and yes that is a talent as much as anything else. Lots of players would love to be more consistent and work very hard at it but it just doesn’t come. The plain fact is that there are sometimes better players than you playing for the other team. Believe me I’ve seen that before. I’ll never forget the first time I ran into a player who actually moved without the ball the way a great player does. We had learned nothing but post up play at the center position. I was at a total loss how to deal with this guy who was cutting down the lane and across the lane and across the baseline and back again and he never stopped. I was young and inexperienced and playing a position I didn’t consider my natural position anyway. I thought I knew something about basketball. All I managed to do was get lots of fouls really quick in that game. Some coaching would have been nice but it was too late by the time I had 3 fouls in the first half. At least I was spared having to look so bad while that kid continued to play well because I was sitting on the bench.

      Alex ran into a lot of people better than him to be honest. He just wasn’t strong enough to play where he was trying to play. Not only that but he failed to learn some basic things like how to block out. I doubt Cal overlooked mentioning that to him. But what do I know except that his play was often a matter of not doing the right thing instead of not trying. That doesn’t make him some shame on the program. it makes him human.

      We would all love it to see the type of player Ulis is at every position. I mean a kid who plays smart, plays hard and rarely makes a mistake. But as we praise Tyler here we all recognize that his talents are far from common. They are very uncommon in fact. We can’t judge everyone by his standard because very few would match up.

      UK has had some great, great players since Cal took over. As good of a coach as he is he can’t play for them. And he would be pretty short for a power forward anyway. I’m going to continue to be thankful for all the kids that come to play because many of them are just plain great and all of them are good. We see very few that don’t live up to that standard. And if they don’t it’s not some pleasure of mine to point it out. They’re kids. They’re human. I’m sure I got plenty of criticism when I played sports. You wouldn’t believe the ignorant things some fans will say to you. Like you must not be trying hard enough because your uniform isn’t as dirty as the guy next to you. Never mind I was a receiver and they were comparing me to a tackle. Never mind that when I did block it was the other guy that was on the ground, not me. That’s how the game was played. But I had two bozos rake me over the coals like they knew something. There are bozos everywhere criticizing others for what they could never possibly do and never could do in their entire lives. If it’s so easy those people should be doing it themselves.

      Tyler was indeed one fantastic Wildcat. I want him back for another year actually. But I doubt that’s in the cards. His stock has risen too high. I don’t usually want a kid to return if they can be drafted but I feel Tyler could sharpen his game even more with the influx of talent coming in next year. And he has some limitations to overcome. He will make it either way. I just feel he would be better prepared after another year of college ball. It’s worked for a lot of players. Look at how much he improved over last year and he was great then. But he was fantastic this year. I’m just not sure he will be quite so fantastic against PG’s who are all 7 inches taller and just as quick as he is. Smart play is his key and I think another year in college would help him there.

  4. Well said Persimmon. Everyone has different priorities in life. Perhaps Alex wanted to get a good education and become a productive member of society in that way. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. He has nothing to apologize for. We do not know what that young man is thinking or what motivates him.

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