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Kentucky Basketball Press Conference - Ulis Quotes
Kentucky Basketball Press Conference - Ulis Quotes

Kentucky Men's Basketball
Tyler Ulis Press Conference
Memorial Coliseum - Lexington, Ky.
April 6, 2016


Opening statement … 
“Well first and foremost, I want to thank God because without Him blessing me with the talents that I have and waking me every day and giving me the chance to play the game that I love none, of this would be possible. To my family and friends, thank you for supporting me, making sacrifices for me, and just always being there for me and believing in me as a player and influencing me to be the best player I can be. To Coach Cal, Uncle KP (Coach Kenny Payne), and the rest of the coaching staff, thanks for the dedication and hard work you’ve put in for us as players and trying to make us succeed to the highest level we can. With that being said, I feel like I am ready to open a next chapter in my life and enter the NBA Draft, and I will be hiring an agent. To all my fans, thank you for everything, supporting me and embracing me since day one when I stepped on campus. Without you guys, I don’t think I would’ve been able to make it through these two seasons and I thank you for that and it was hard for me to leave.”

On when he made his decision and what made him know he was ready to take this next step … 
“Well, it was a tough decision but, you know, me and my family sat down and talked a couple weeks ago. (We were) just thinking about it and I think that with the season I had, I’m going to, like Coach Cal always says, I’m always going to be 5-9, so with the season I had this year I feel like it’s time and I’m prepared.”

On his decision to hire an agent rather than leaving the option open …
“We have been talking about it for a while now so I feel like the way I played, like I said, that this would be the best opportunity for me and we are ready for that step.” 

On if there was any hesitation because of the group coming in …
“There’s definitely hesitation going out the way we did. We didn’t win it last year and we didn’t win it this year and I always wanted a national title. With those guys coming in it would be a lot of fun playing with them, throwing lobs to the two guards and the bigs coming in, but like I said, I feel like this is what is best for me and my family.”

On how he would like to be remembered at Kentucky …
“I would like to be remembered as someone who comes out and does whatever he needs to do to win the game and leaves everything out on the court.”

On if he felt he gave everything he had this season …
“I feel like I gave all I had in every game I played. I tried to do that through injuries and stuff like that. But I feel like I always try to leave it out there on the floor and do what I need to for my team.”

On what kind of mark he thinks he has left on the fan base at Kentucky …
“I feel like the fans like me a lot more because I’m smaller and I’m happy for that. But, like I said, the fans were great to me. They love me. I love them as well, so that made the decision to leave even harder.”

On how much of a dream come true this is for him to enter the NBA Draft …
“It’s unbelievable. It’s a dream come true, like you said. I’ve been dreaming about this all my life. My brother and I used to run around all of Chicago just playing guys two on two, trying to hustle people, and that feels like just yesterday. But now we’re here. I’m very happy.”

On his expectations coming in despite Coach Calipari being known to say “if you’re a four-year point guard, don’t come here”…
“I expected two years at the least.  Last year, I knew the team we had and the way my body was, I wasn’t prepared yet. But this year, I had a plan before the season started and I feel like I’ve done most of it for the most part, besides winning the national title. I feel like, like I said, this is my time.”

On his expectations regarding the draft …
“I don’t know what to expect yet, but when it’s time to go work out and stuff like that, I’m just going to do what I’ve done and trust in my game and let it go from there.”

On if he thinks his hometown Chicago Bulls have any use for a point guard like him in the draft…
“(Laughs) They have a great point guard in D(Derrick)Rose right now, but I’m open for anyone, obviously.”

On who in the NBA bolsters his confidence that he can make it in the league …
“Well, I haven’t watched much of him, but Isaiah Thomas, the things he’s doing, he’s the same size as me. He became an All-Star, which helps me a lot. So him doing the things that he’s doing at that level, it’s just great for me. It really influences me to go out there and do the same.”

On how his game translates to the NBA …
“Everybody’s going to be stronger, faster, bigger. But that’s what helps me here at Kentucky because I played with pros this year, pros last year. Last year we had maybe four 7-footers. So I’ve seen everything you can at that. I haven’t seen the players at that level yet, but with the wide-open game and the way we play our game, I’ll succeed.”

On his best memory at Kentucky…
“I have a lot of memories here, with Jamal (Murray) running up the scoreboards, last year going 38-0.  It’s just a lot of things to remember and it was a very fun experience. I can’t wait for my next experience, but this was a great feeling for me.”

On being at the 2016 Final Four …
“It was tough. My dad kind of forced me to go to the game. When I watched that game it made it a lot easier for me to watch the next game, but when I saw Marcus Paige hit that last shot and the kid from ‘Nova hit the shot, it’s like that could have been us. But you know it’s something we live and learn from. We wish we were there, but we weren’t.”

On reuniting with some of his teammates from the 2014-15 Kentucky team at the next level …
“Well, you know (Devin) Book(er), Karl-(Anthony Towns) and those guys still tease me every day about still being in college, still going to class, still being a college boy, but it will be fun to go up there in those levels and just play with the best people in the world.”

On what he improved the most since getting to UK …
“I feel like I improved most as a vocal leader. Last year I led, but not much vocally because those guys knew what they were doing. This year with more freshmen coming here I just tried to talk a little more and tried to be a more vocal leader.”

On his advice to the UK players returning for next season …
“You’ve got to be able to handle Coach (Calipari). He’s going to yell at you, but you know, it’s all for the best. He wants you to become the best player you can be. Just take it all in and make sure you keep playing and stay confident.”

On if there was a moment when he realized Coach Cal could help him get to the next level …
“It was before I even committed here when he told me, ‘Don’t come here if you want to be a four-year point guard.’ He wants his guys to make their dream come true – go to that next level. It doesn’t matter how long they’re here. They can get hurt and not play any games he still wants them to succeed at the next level.”

On his pride in being so successful as a smaller player …
“A little bit of pride, (but) not much because I don’t really look at it as I’m trying to be the best shortest player to ever play the game. I want to be the best in general. I just come out there and play. I understand basketball is simple: You shoot when you’re open, pass to teammates when they’re open. I just go out there and try to play to the best of my ability and do what I can.”

On what he sees on the court that other guys don’t …
“I don’t know. I just try to think a couple steps ahead. Because I’m smaller I have to use my IQ to my advantage. I just try to take the game with that approach and try to out-think guys.”

James Ulis, Tyler’s father


On the family’s emotions surrounding the draft…
“Very happy, excited. Very proud of him. I know this has been a long process for him. I think he’s always been a great teammate. Very focused on working hard. Really never cared about what anyone thought of him. He just always went out and played for the team. Just very, very happy for him. As he said, obviously we all have to make tough decisions in life, and we feel like this is the best decision for him. It wasn’t rushed. It was well planned out. And we’re just excited about the next chapter in his life.”

On if he dreamed of Tyler playing in the NBA when he was growing up…
“Of course. But it’s funny, he believed more than anybody. If you ask Kelly (Reed, Tyler’s mother), there’s a paper he wrote in second or third grade. He was explaining what all our jobs were, but then he said, ‘Well my job is that I’m going to be an NBA player down the road.’ And again, every step he’s taken, he said he’d do it. He said he’d be a college All-American and lead a big-time basketball program. He said he’d make the NBA. That’s the next step. He’s always believed in himself. Definitely, it’s tough. There aren’t a lot of jobs in the NBA, but him getting the opportunity to get one is a dream come true. There’s a lot of work in that, so we’re definitely excited about it.”

On what he thought of the UK coaching staff handling his son …
“I enjoyed it. I thought Cal and Coach (Kenny) Payne, who acted as a father to him while he was here – we had several conversations or a few over the last couple of years (and) I think they taught him how to be a professional. They taught him how to be accountable. They taught just how important it is that you show up right every day. If you’re going to be a point guard, you got to be a leader on and off the court. I just told my wife when we came back how Tyler’s grown. I think I told him, ‘You’ve grown a lot since you were 18.’ I’m proud of that. So it says a lot about Kentucky and how they raise young men. I think I can speak to a lot of kids I’ve met on the team the last couple of years that this staff here does a great job. From an academic – Mike Stone – to all the trainers, what I saw and what you see on TV it’s not the same. I’m definitely pleased with how they handled my son.”

On if he ever envisioned Tyler reaching this stage …
“Yes, I envisioned it because I think when you watch him play, I think if you really know the game or appreciate the game, 13, 14-years old he just had a different feel for the game. Some kids were bigger, stronger, obviously a lot taller at times, but it’s just the way he played and the way he led and his ability to make the team around him better. I just always felt there he could get to varsity and start and then on to college as he’s been able to do.”
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