Ulis Named to Sporting News All-America First Team

LEXINGTON, Ky. – First a Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year finalist. Then the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. And now an All-American.

Sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis added to his already incredible week Wednesday by making Sporting News’ All-America First Team. He joins Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon, Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, Utah’s Jakob Poeltl and Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine on the first team.

Also, freshman Jamal Murray was one of five players to make the Sporting News Freshman All-America Team. The five-man team consists of Murray, California’s Jaylen Brown, Marquette’s Henry Ellenson, Duke’s Brandon Ingram and LSU’s Ben Simmons. 

Ulis was named to USA Today’s All-America First Team and Murray made the USA Today All-America Second Team earlier in the week, but the NCAA recognizes four All-America teams in order to be a consensus All-American, with Sporting News being the first to unveil its teams. The National Association of Basketball Coaches, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and the Associated Press make up the other votes.

Ulis is the seventh Kentucky player in the John Calipari era to make one of the Sporting News All-America teams and the fourth one to make the first team. He’s the 54th Wildcat in school history to pick up at least one NCAA-recognized All-America honor. 

It’s been quite a week for Ulis, who was already named SEC Player of the Year and SEC Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday. Among the honors Ulis has already received this postseason: 

  • Sporting News All-America First Team
  • SEC Player of the Year (Coaches)
  • 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

Murray’s postseason honors are growing lengthy as well. The honors Kentucky’s leading scorer has already racked up: 

  • Sporting News Freshman All-America Team
  • All-SEC First Team (Coaches) 
  • SEC All-Freshman Team (Coaches) 
  • USA Today All-America Second Team 
  • USBWA All-District IV Team 
  • USBWA Wayman Tisdale finalist
About Mr. Fab-ULIS: Heading into the postseason, Ulis is averaging 16.6 points, a Southeastern Conference-best 7.4 assists (sixth nationally) and a league-best 3.8 assist-to-turnover ratio (fifth nationally). He’s dished out 10 or more assists in six of his last nine games and scored 20 or more points in 11 of his last 20 games.

The Chicago native is the only player in the SEC averaging at least 16.6 points and 7.4 assists or better. He is one of just four players nationally to achieve that feat (Kahlil Felder, Oakland; Juan’Ya Green, Hofstra; Denzel Valentine, Michigan State) and the lone underclassman.

He has the single-season school record for most 20-point, five-assist games with 12, 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.

Ulis’ value is probably best represented by his performances in Kentucky’s biggest games. He’s averaging a team-best 22.8 points and a team-high 9.0 assists in UK’s five games vs. ranked opponents. He shot 54.3 percent with a 5.0 assist-to-turnover ratio in those games.

Already third on the school’s single-season assists list with 221 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 24 consecutive games with four or more assists since at least 1972-73. 

About Murray: Murray has been one of the nation’s best scorers all season long. He currently leads the Wildcats in scoring at 20.0 points per game, which, if the season ended today, would be the highest scoring average at Kentucky in the Calipari era. Brandon Knight, in 2010-11, finished at 17.3 points per game. Murray’s current average is the most for any player under Calipari since Dajuan Wagner averaged 21.2 points during the 2001-02 season at Memphis. 

With 619 points this season, he trails only Knight (657 points in 2010-11) for the most points by a freshman in school history. He’s posted three 30-point games this season, the most by a freshman in school history, and his 35 points vs. Florida tied Terrence Jones (Jan. 11, 2011 vs. Auburn) for the school record single-game scoring mark by a freshman. It also tied Jones for the most points in a single game in the Calipari era.

Murray is the first Wildcat to reach double figures in 29 straight games since Jodie Meeks did it 32 times in 2008-09, and he’s currently on a 10-game streak of scoring 20 points or more. That’s the longest such streak for any UK player since Kevin Grevey topped 20 or more points in 12 straight games in 1974-75.

Having hit a 3-pointer in every game this season, Murray owns the UK freshman record for most 3-point field goals in a single season with 99, surpassing Knight’s previous record of 87. His 99 made 3-pointers is already third on the single-season 3-point field goal list, and he’s got a shot at breaking Steph Curry’s NCAA single-season record for 3-point field goals in a season (122). 

Ulis, Murray and the Wildcats will play the winner of the Alabama-Ole Miss game on Friday at 7 p.m. ET in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals in Nashville, Tenn. That game will be televised on the SEC Network. 

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