What will hip injury do to Tyler Ulis’ draft position?

Tyler Ulis. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Tyler Ulis. (Vicky Graff Photo)


A few weeks ago most mock drafts had Kentucky guard slated as a first-round draft pick and possible lottery pick. Now word of a serious hip injury has his status in limbo going into Thursday  night’s draft.

“Teams are all over the board on him just because of his size. At 5’10”, 150 pounds, there’s not a lot of precedent for guys that size excelling in the NBA. And people point to Isiah Thomas, but Isiah Thomas is a good 30 pounds heavier than Ulis is, and he’s more of a scoring, super athletic stocky guard and there is some precedent for guys like him, Nate Robinson, in that role succeeding in the NBA,” said ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford.

“Ulis is going to be — he’s going to be a bit of a trend setter there. But he has elite court version. He is probably the best passing point guard in this draft, and I think that intrigues some people.”

What about the potential hip injury that was never mentioned during his two years at  UK?

“As far as the hip goes, I’m still trying to collect information on how big of an issue this is,” Ford said. “When you hear those medical reports, it’s difficult to ascertain how serious these sorts of things are down the road because they go through these prospects with such a thorough look that any little thing that has happened in your entire life would show up.

“If you broke your arm in second grade, it would be there on the report, and there might be a certain level of concern about it, how it healed. If it’s something small like his hips are tight, the muscles are tight, I’d say that’s 80 percent of the NBA, these players struggle with hip tightness, calcification of the hip, things like that.

“It could also go the other way. Kevon Looney last year slipped all the way down to 30 last year because there was a concern he would have to have hip surgery, which obviously turned out to be true and he’s had it this off-season, and that’s obviously a more serious concern.”

Ford said he’s been told teams are aware there is a potential issue but it varies from team to team.

“It’s really hard to pick where Ulis goes. But I think he either goes somewhere in the 20s or he ends up going somewhere in the 30s. But I think he’s going to get drafted, and I don’t think it’s going to torpedo his draft stock,” Ford said.


  1. Fran Tarkenton. For those that don’t remember the Mad Scrambler he was a 6′, 190 lb. QB that played for the Vikings and the Giants. This was at a time when there were zero rules to protect the QB like we see today. For a guy his size to play and dominate the game the way he did (he was MVP in 1975) was an amazing thing. He had guys trying very hard to take his head off – big guys named Butkus and Lambert – but he made the pro bowl 9 times and set records for passing yards and TD’s that lasted for years.

    I know that’s 190 lbs and not 150 lbs. But the game was brutal in those days and the average QB rarely made it through a whole season in one piece. Fran thrived in that situation to the amazement of everyone.

    If Fran could play under those circumstances at his size and do what he did then Ulis can play in the NBA where fouls are illegal and no one takes a run from 15 yards away and slams you as hard as possible. They couldn’t touch Fran most of the time because he was so shifty. He actually endured far better than most QB’s.

    The precedent is there IMO. I haven’t seen any evidence the hip thing affected Tyler’s game. I expect Ulis to be that kind of player. He’s so quick and smart and shifty that those big screens are going to have little impact on him. Yes he will take some shots but I’ve seen that he is tough. He stood up in Boogie’s face for pity’s sake. Anyone that does that is going to do well IMO.

    1. Ulis excelled at the college level when many other players much bigger than him struggled. Ulis will be a pro His game is lethal if he is used right.. Some of the others from this past class I worry about more than Ulis.

    2. One of the great stories about the scrambling ability of Fran Tarkenton was that two of his offensive linemen were on the ground after having already throw two blocks each on the play. One of them said “We better get back up, he’s coming this way again.”

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