Illini Interested In Point Guard Tyler Ulis

Fighting Illini basketball coach Bruce Weber has shied away from diminutive point guards, feeling they had to be exceptional to counter their lack of stature. But after trying to guard several short speed merchants, he may be changing his mind. Visiting for the Ohio State game was Marian Catholic's Tyler Ulis. His quickness and court awareness are attracting Illini coaches.

Tyler Ulis might not be noticed in a crowd, but his skills on the basketball court are hard to miss. The sophomore at Marian Catholic is the consummate point guard. He knows how to set up teammates for open looks. His court awareness is outstanding.

"I like to distribute the ball. I'm primarily a passer."

He has grown an inch since summer AAU ball with the Meanstreets Wilburn 15 and Under team.

"I'm 5'-8" now. I hope to grow some more, but I like my size. I just play through it."

Ulis is not afraid of competition. He moved from Ohio to play against better players. As expected, opponents try to be physical with him offensively and post him low defensively to take advantage of his lack of size. He has learned ways of compensating.

"Bigger guards try to push me around, but I try to use my quickness and my ability to use screens and other things. They try to post me up inside every game. I try to use my lack of size to my advantage by going around them."

He is humble about his accomplishments, but colleges have taken notice.

"I'm doing pretty well. I've been small all my life, so I'm used to it. I get around pretty good."

He may be the kind of "zipper" guard Illinois coach Bruce Weber talks about, players like Lewis Jackson at Purdue who's speed makes up for small stature. The Ohio State game was his first visit to campus. He likes what he sees.

"I like their team and the way they play. I like the way they push the ball and their style. I will be following them more closely in the future. I'm looking for a ball screen offense with a fast tempo."

Growing up in Ohio, Ulis had a double reason for attending the Ohio State game. But so far, he has received more interest from other schools.

"Besides Illinois, I've heard from Colorado State, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Marquette and Loyola, which has offered me."

Has he formulated any favorite colleges at this point?

"Right now, I'm just keeping my options open. I'm focusing on playing and let my dad handle all that."

Ulis believes good days are ahead for his high school team.

"We're 10-5. Our record is not that good, but we're playing pretty good right now. Hopefully we'll improve the rest of the year."

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