Ulis Tabbed Consensus First-Team All-American

LEXINGTON, Ky. – It’s official: Kentucky men’s basketball point guard Tyler Ulis is a consensus first-team All-American.

Ulis earned the honors Tuesday after making the Associated Press All-America First Team alongside Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon, North Carolina’s Brice Johnson and Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine. Ulis is the only non-senior on the team. 

According to the AP, the 5-foot-9 Ulis is the shortest AP All-American since 5-9 Johnny O’Brien of Seattle in 1953. Ulis received 43 of a possible 65 first-place votes, third among all players. UK now has 17 AP first-team All-Americans with 19 total AP first-team honors.

The sophomore point guard was also tabbed to the CBS Sports All-America First Team earlier on Tuesday. 

Freshman guard Jamal Murray was selected to both the AP All-America Third Team and the CBS Sports All-America Third Team. With Ulis and Murray, UK has now had nine AP All-Americans under head coach John Calipari.

Kentucky was the only school with two players named to the AP's three All-America teams. 

The NCAA recognizes consensus All-Americans based on four “major” NCAA-recognized All-America teams: the AP, Sporting News, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Since 1984, the NCAA has applied a standardized point system based on those four All-America teams, with three points awarded to first-team honors, two to second-teams honors and one to third-team honors. The top five totals in the country plus ties are considered consensus first-team All-Americans, and the next five plus ties make the second team.

Ulis, by virtue of the points system, earned first-team honors on Tuesday. He was named a first-team All-American by the AP and Sporting News and a second-team All-American by the USBWA and the NABC. 

The Chicago native is the shortest consensus first-team All-American since Pittsburgh’s Don Hennon, at 5-9, earned the distinction in 1958.

Ulis is the 21st consensus first-team All-American in school history and the fourth under Calipari. All told, UK has had 26 consensus first-team All-America honors. Forest Sale (1932, 1933), Ralph Beard (1947-49), Alex Groza (1947, 1949) and Cliff Hagan (1952, 1954) achieved the feat in multiple seasons.

Willie Cauley-Stein (2015), Anthony Davis (2012) and John Wall (2010) previously earned the distinction under Calipari. 

Kentucky’s 26 consensus first-team All-America selections is tied with North Carolina for the second most all-time. Kansas leads with 28. 

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 John 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.

Later this week he will be in Houston as one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy, awarded annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club to the nation’s most outstanding player of the year. Next week he will head to Los Angeles as one of five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award.

Among the honors Ulis has received this postseason: 

  • NCAA Consensus All-America First Team
  • Associated Press All-America First Team
  • Sporting News All-America First Team
  • USBWA All-America Second Team
  • NABC All-America Second Team
  • Wooden Award All-America Team
  • Sports Illustrated All-America First Team
  • CBS Sports All-America First 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.

ABOUT MURRAY: Murray was one of the nation’s best scorers all season long and led the league with five SEC Weekly honors. He led the Wildcats in scoring at 20.0 points per game, which is the highest individual scoring average at Kentucky in the Calipari era. 
 
With 720 points this season, he owns the school’s freshman single-season scoring record surpassing Brandon Knight (657 points in 2010-11). That mark is also good for eighth all-time among all players in UK history.

He posted three 30-point games this season, two of which came against league competition. The three 30-point games are 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 30 or more games since Jodie Meeks had a run of 32 times in 2008-09. Murray’s streak stretched to 34 straight games. He racked up a 12-game streak of scoring 20 points or more matching 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 113, surpassing Knight’s previous record of 87. His 113 made 3-pointers are second on the UK single-season 3-point field goal list and the most of any freshman in the history of the SEC. It’s also the second most of any freshman in NCAA history, trailing only Stephen Curry’s record of 122. 

Murray’s postseason honors list continues to lengthen by the day. Among the honors he’s been recognized for already:

  • AP All-America Third Team
  • All-SEC First Team (Coaches/AP) 
  • SEC All-Freshman Team (Coaches)
  • USA Today All-America Second Team
  • Scout.com All-America Second Team 
  • CBS Sports All-America Third Team
  • USBWA Freshman All-America Team
  • Sporting News Freshman All-America Team
  • USBWA All-District IV Team
  • NABC District 21 First Team
  • Wayman Tisdale finalist
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