By LARRY VAUGHT
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.