DES MOINES — When Tyler Ulis walked off the floor at Wells Fargo Arena, it was likely his final time wearing a Kentucky uniform.
In just two seasons of work, he became one of the school’s all-time great players. Whatever your preferred measurement — The eye test, the record books, analytics — Ulis passed with ease.
The All-American and serious National Player of the Year contender held back tears after Kentucky’s season ended Saturday night.
“We had a lot of fun this year,” he said. “Everybody was close on and off the court. You don’t want to end the season with these guys. But, you know, it’s over.”
Reporters asked about his future several times, but he wasn’t interested in that conversation.
“I haven’t really thought about if this is it or not,” he said. “Just still can’t get the game out of my head.”
Make no mistake: Ulis is leaving. His coach admitted it multiple times this season, and his stock will likely never be higher than it is at the moment.
DraftExpress.com currently lists the 5-foot-9 point guard as a late first-round prospect.
“I always knew I could play at this level,” he said. “I knew what my game was like. I knew how I was as a player, and I never really paid attention to what people said. I just come out here and play.”
Ulis claimed Kentucky’s single-season assist record on Thursday night against Stony Brook, and he put together 20-point games like clockwork this season. Here are his rankings in the Wildcats record book:
- Points, single season: 23rd (606)
- Points, career: 84th (815)
- Assists, single season: 1st (246)
- Assists, career: 10th (381)
- 20-point, 5-assist games: 1st (14)
- Consecutive games with 4-plus assists: 1st (28)
- Games with 10-plus assists, single season: 1st (7)
Ulis is such a beloved player in Lexington that, within an hour of Saturday’s loss, a fan had already posted a “tribute” video.
Take another look at our December feature on Ulis’ journey and relive some of his best moments below: