With one dazzling performance after another – the latest of which was an all-time unforgettable afternoon in the Southeastern Conference Tournament championship game – the postseason honors continue to follow for Kentucky sophomore Tyler Ulis.
The latest came Monday in the form of All-America honors from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. The 5-foot-9 Ulis was named the USBWA All-America Second Team. He was joined by Providence’s Kris Dunn, Iowa State’s Georges Niang, Utah’s Jakob Poeltl and Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff.
Ulis has already been named to the Sporting News All-America First Team. The NCAA recognizes four All-America teams in order to be a consensus All-American, with Sporting News and the USBWA being two of them. The National Association of Basketball Coaches and the Associated Press make up the other votes.
The USBWA will announce its Oscar Robertson Trophy winner as the national player of the year at the NCAA Men's Final Four in Houston.
Ulis is the sixth Kentucky player in the John Calipari era to make one of the USBWA All-America teams and the third one to make the second team. He’s the 54th Wildcat in school history to pick up at least one NCAA-recognized All-America honor.
The list of postseason honors, which was already a long one heading into this past week, continues to grow. In addition to Monday’s All-America honors, Ulis was named the Southeastern Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player after leading UK to back-to-back SEC Tournament crowns.
Among the honors Ulis has already received this postseason:
· Sporting News All-America First Team
· USBWA All-America Second Team
· SEC Player of the Year (Coaches)
· SEC Tournament MVP
· SEC Defensive Player of the Year (Coaches)
· All-SEC First Team (Coaches)
· SEC All-Defensive Team (Coaches)
· USA Today All-America First Team
· CBS Sports SEC Player of the Year
· USBWA District IV Player of the Year
· USBWA All-District IV Team
· Bob Cousy finalist
· John R. Wooden Award finalist
· USBWA Oscar Robertson finalist
About Mr. Fab-ULIS: Heading into the postseason, Ulis is averaging 17.2 points and an SEC-best 7.2 assists. He entered the NCAA Tournament ranking sixth nationally in assists and fifth nationally with a 3.8 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s dished out 10 or more assists in six of his last 12 games and scored 20 or more points in 13 of his last 23 games.
Entering the NCAA Tournament, the Chicago native was the only player in the SEC averaging at least 17.2 points and 7.2 assists or better. He was one of just three players nationally to achieve that feat (Kahil Felder, Oakland; Denzel Valentine, Michigan State) and the lone underclassman.
Ulis has the single-season school record for most 20-point, five-assist games with 14, and according to the SEC Network, his three 20-point, 10-assist games this season are the most of any SEC player in the last 20 seasons.
In league play, Ulis averaged 8.4 assists with a 4.5 assist-to-turnover ratio. He played 672 of a possible 725 minutes in SEC games, committing a turnover every 19.8 minutes per game.
Ulis’ value is probably best represented by his performances in Kentucky’s biggest games. He’s averaging a team-best 24.0 points and a team-high 8.3 assists in UK’s six games vs. ranked opponents in either the Associated Press Top 25 or the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. He shot 55.2 percent with a 5.0 assist-to-turnover ratio in those games. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider he played 252 of the possible 255 minutes of those games including the entire 45 minutes of all three overtime contests.
Already second on the school’s single-season assists list with 236 dimes, he’s on pace to break John Wall’s single-season record of 241 assists set in 2009-10. He is the only player with 27 consecutive games with four or more assists since at least 1972-73.
Ulis and the Wildcats will play Stony Brook on Thursday at approximately 9:40 p.m. ET in the NCAA Tournament first round in Des Moines, Iowa. That game will be televised on CBS.