Ulis Named Wooden Award Finalist, Makes All-American Team

LOS ANGELES – Kentucky sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis added to his growing list of accolades on Monday night with his selection to the John R. Wooden Award All-America Team. In addition to being named to the All-America Team, Ulis is one of the top five finalists for the Wooden Award, which goes to the nation’s top player. 

Having tabulated enough votes to be among the final five finalists, Ulis is eligible for the Wooden Award. The award was created in 1976 and is bestowed upon the nation’s best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his or her university that he or she is making progress toward graduation while maintaining a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. The unique Wooden Award trophy is presented to a man and woman each year. Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird (‘79), Michael Jordan (‘84), Tim Duncan (‘97), Candace Parker (‘07 and ‘08), Kevin Durant (‘09), Maya Moore (‘09 and ‘11), Trey Burke (‘13) and Doug McDermott (‘14). 

The 40th annual presentation of the John R. Wooden Award will be the anchor presentation of the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show on ESPN2 on April 8 at 8 p.m. ET. Ulis and other members of the men’s and women’s John R. Wooden Award All-American Teams will be honored during the ceremony, and the 2016 Wooden Award Legends of Coaching Trophy will be presented to former Kentucky coach Tubby Smith.

The Chicago native was tabbed to the Wooden Award All-America Team alongside Grayson Allen (Duke) Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia), Kris Dunn (Providence), Perry Ellis (Kansas), Yogi Ferrell (Indiana), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Brice Johnson (North Carolina), Georges Niang (Iowa State) and Denzel Valentine (Michigan State). The top five vote getters who are the remaining candidates for the nation’s player of the year honor include Ulis, Brogdon, Hield, Johnson and Valentine. 

Ulis is the fifth Wildcat to be named a Wooden Award All-American since the inception of the team in 2007. He joins Willie Cauley-Stein (2015), Anthony Davis (2012), DeMarcus Cousins (2010) and John Wall (2010) as other UK players to earn the distinction. 

Ulis posted one of the greatest all-time individual seasons for a point guard in school history while leading the Wildcats to a share of the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship, the SEC Tournament title and a 27-9 overall record in 2015-16.

En route to becoming one of the nation’s elite players, Ulis ended the season with 246 assists, setting the new single-season school record previously held by Wall. Until the season’s final game, Ulis had a streak of 28 consecutive games with four or more assists, the longest streak in school history since at least 1972-73.

Among the honors Ulis has already received this postseason: 

  • Sporting News All-America First Team
  • USBWA All-America Second Team
  • NABC All-America Second Team
  • Wooden Award All-America Team
  • SEC Player of the Year (Coaches/AP)
  • SEC Tournament MVP
  • SEC Defensive Player of the Year (Coaches) 
  • All-SEC First Team (Coaches/AP) 
  • 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
  • NABC District 21 First Team
  • Naismith Trophy finalist
  • John R. Wooden Award finalist 
  • USBWA Oscar Robertson finalist
  • Bob Cousy finalist 

About Mr. Fab-ULIS: Ulis finished the season averaging 17.3 points and an SEC-best 7.0 assists. Following his final game, he ranked seventh nationally in assists and sixth in the country with a 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. 

He was the only player in the SEC averaging at least 17.3 points and 7.0 assists or better. He was one of just four players in the nation (Kahil Felder, Oakland; Denzel Valentine, Michigan State; Juan’ya Green, Hofstra) with those numbers and the lone underclassman entering this weekend’s action.

Ulis completed the year with 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 was probably best represented by his performances in Kentucky’s biggest games. He averaged a team-best 24.4 points and a team-high 7.6 assists in UK’s seven games vs. ranked opponents. He shot 54.2 percent with a 3.8 assist-to-turnover ratio in those games. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider he played 291 of the possible 295 minutes in those games, including the entire 45 minutes of all three overtime contests.

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