By LARRY VAUGHT
Point guard Tyler Ulis was mentioned as a potential lottery pick a few weeks ago. Then rumors surfaced that the former Kentucky point guard had a hip injury that had never been mentioned during his two years at Kentucky.
Finally, Kentucky coach John Calipari said during several ESPN appearances Thursday that he worried Ulis’ weight — less than 150 pounds — was costing him in the NBA draft and could force him to fall out of the first round.
Calipari was right as Ulis — who some thought might go to Chicago, his hometown, with the 14th pick — did not get drafted until Phoenix took him with the 34th pick overall. That means he joins Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe and Archie Goodwin, all guards with the Suns and all former UK players.
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas called him a terrific leader with great footwork who was a terrific pick for the Suns with the fourth choice in the second round.
Ed Isaacson of NBAdraftblog.com had warned Sunday that Ulis might fall in the draft as he did.
“A lot will depend on what a team flagged on the hip issue. Rumors get started and you are never quite sure of the validity and how teams view that,” Isaacson said. “But also if you are going to be under 6-foot in the NBA right now, you have got to be solidly built to take the punishment or an explosive athlete.
“There were a lot of concerns when he got to the combine and weighed in less than 150 pounds. I am not sure how much he can add to that frame, not sure how physical he can be. in workouts, according to a lot of people, playing against bigger guards wore him down.”
However, Ulis has never been afraid of a challenge and the one silver lining for him is that he will be reunited with Booker, a long-time friend and a major reason Ulis came to UK.