LOS ANGELES – Already in the school record books as the best distributor of the basketball in single-season history, Kentucky men’s basketball sophomore Tyler Ulis now owns the official designation as the top point guard of the 2015-16 college basketball season with the awarding of the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award.
Ulis was announced as the 2016 winner during ESPN’s College Basketball Awards Show on Friday. Ulis was on site in Los Angeles to receive the prestigious award, presented annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to the top point guard in the country.
“Well, last year we had so many veteran guys, so many pros on the team I didn’t have to do as much,” Ulis told Jay Williams after winning the award. “This year we had a lot of freshmen coming in and I feel like my role was to lead this team and try to do as best as I can.
“(I started playing better) in the middle of the year,” Ulis said. “I started player better, started shooting the ball a lot better and our started clicking. When we started winning games it started to be a lot more fun.”
Already an NCAA consensus first-team All-American, Ulis beat finalists Kris Dunn (Providence), Yogi Ferrell (Indiana), Monte Morris (Iowa State) and Kay Felder (Oakland) to win the award.
Ulis is the first Wildcat in the 13-year history of the award to win the honor. Previous winners of the Bob Cousy Award include: Delon Wright, Utah (2015); Shabazz Napier, Connecticut (2014); Trey Burke, Michigan (2013); Kendall Marshall, North Carolina (2012); Kemba Walker, Connecticut (2011); Greivis Vasquez, Maryland (2010); Ty Lawson, North Carolina (2009); DJ Augustin, Texas (2008); Acie Law, Texas A&M (2007); Dee Brown, Illinois (2006); Raymond Felton, North Carolina (2005); and Jameer Nelson, St. Joseph’s (2004).
A national committee comprised of top college basketball personnel determined the initial watch list of 20 candidates in October, trimmed it down to 10 in February and named the final five finalists in March. The winner of the Cousy Award was determined by a combination of fan votes and input from the Basketball Hall of Fame’s selection committee.
The award is named after legendary point guard Bob Cousy, considered by many as the best playmaker ever. Cousy had an All-America career at The College of the Holy Cross, leading the Crusaders to three NCAA tournaments and the 1947 title. Cousy would go on to the NBA and lead the Boston Celtics to six championships alongside Hall of Famers Bill Russell and head coach Red Auerbach.
Cousy led the NBA in assists eight consecutive years (1953-60), played in 13 straight NBA All-Star games, earned MVP honors in the 1954 and 1957 games, and racked up 16,960 career points. He was named a Naismith Hall of Famer in 1971.
Ulis is about to embark on his professional career after announcing Wednesday that he has declared for the 2016 NBA Draft and plans to hire an agent, which would effectively end his career at Kentucky.
Ulis posted one of the greatest all-time individual seasons for a point guard in school history while leading the Wildcats to a share of the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship, the SEC Tournament title and a 27-9 overall record in 2015-16.
En route to becoming one of the nation’s elite players, Ulis ended the season with 246 assists, setting the new single-season school record previously held by John Wall. Until the season’s final game, Ulis had a streak of 28 consecutive games with four or more assists, the longest streak in school history since at least 1972-73.
Just last week the 5-foot-9 Chicago native was named an NCAA consensus first-team All-American, the shortest consensus first-team All-American since Pittsburgh’s Don Hennon, at 5-9, earned the distinction in 1958.
Ulis is also in Los Angeles this week as one of five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, which is bestowed upon the nation’s best player.