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By LARRY VAUGHT
Many Kentucky fans will get their first chance to see 5-foot-9 point guard Tyler Ulis, who signed with Kentucky in November, play when Chicago Marian Catholic plays in the McCracken County Festival of Hoops on Saturday night.
Cortez Hale, Anthony Davis’ former high school coach in Chicago, thinks UK fans will like what they see.
“He is the leader of his team. He takes control of his team, which is the best trait a point guard can have,” Hale said. “He never seems to get rattled. I saw one game where his team was down at half, but he was always cool and collected. He brought his team back because he doesn’t get rattled.
“I think he’s going to be fine at Kentucky. He will more than make up for his size. I don’t see him going inside and banging with the big boys and trying to rebound. But he’ll use his quickness, he can outsmart people and he can shoot floaters. His 3-point shot is good. I saw him make some deep 3s. A lot of times even when he was double teamed he hit a 3.”
Hale said one plus for Ulis is that he plays against good competition regularly.
“There’s good competition in the Catholic league. It’s a different level than the public league here. The play is tougher, more gritty in that league. He’s in a very good league and that will help him a lot at Kentucky.”
Ulis recently scored 14 of his 28 points during a four-plus minute span in the first half to lead Marian Catholic to a 75-58 victory over Thornton and was named the tournament’s most valuable player for the second year in a row. During a 13-possession span, he had 14 points, four assists and turned a four-point deficit into a 30-21. He made three 3-pointers and also created plays with his defense.
Hale was surprised that Ulis did not receive more big-time recruiting attention earlier than he did.
“I was asking friends why they thought he was not being recruited by more high major schools earlier because I knew this dude could play,” Hale said. “Once I found out Kentucky was watching him play AAU, I knew he would be good for (John) Calipari.
“His court vision is so good. Sometimes he’ll throw passes that teammates are not expecting and that causes them not to see them. He can make unbelievable passes to teammates that not a lot of point guards can make or even try to make. There not forced, either. They are all good decisions. Since he’s double-teamed a lot, he had to become a good passer and that’s really going to make UK fans like him.”