I’m not one to hide my opinions. I find college football recruiting to be creepy. The passion with which some fanbases try to read into every tweet from a 16 year old kid is creepy. Another reason I dislike football recruiting is that one recruit can’t really change a program. As great as a player like Jadeveon Clowney is, he can’t singlehandedly carry South Carolina to a national championship. He’s only one of 84 other scholarship players. Football is the ultimate team sport in that regard.
Call me hypocritical, but I find basketball recruiting to be a little different. One player can drastically change the direction of a program. For example, if you can get yourself a top-flight point guard like a Trey Burke, he could theoretically have an impact on over 50% of the possessions while he’s on the court (25%+ usage rate, 35%+ assist rate). One player can make such a massive impact on a team, that it makes sense in my mind to follow college basketball recruiting with at least a passing interest.
This brings us to Tyler Ulis (Full disclosure: I’ve never seen Tyler play, and have only watched highlight clips like this one.
Tyler Ulis #8 PG Vs Tyus Jones #1 PG Epic Battle at Peach Jam 2013 (via GameTimePros)
His top 4 teams are Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan State and USC, and as of Friday, he supposedly holds offers from all four schools. He’s a point guard out of Chicago that’s on the shorter side at 5’ 8". As a shorter guard, he’s likely not to be an early entrant to the NBA, which means he could potentially make a huge impact at the college level for multiple years.
As of last week, he did not hold an offer from Kentucky yet still had them in his top 4 schools. Can you blame him? If I’m a highly-touted point guard in high school, I’d be dying to play for Calipari in hopes of being the next Rose/Wall/Bledsoe/etc. In recent years, being a point guard for Calipari has basically guaranteed you a spot in the NBA after a year on campus. That’s a highly improbable outcome for Ulis because his height will be such a large detriment in the eyes of NBA scouts. If Ulis decides that Kentucky is the best place for him to continue his basketball career, nobody will blame him. There’s a good chance that he wins a national title at some point, and the tutelage that he’ll receive from Calipari will serve him well in a professional career either in the NBA or overseas.
The elephant in the room though, is his position on the point guard depth chart at Kentucky? Calipari is still recruiting the top 2 point guards in the class of 2014 (Tyus Jones and Emmanuel Mudiay). If you look at 247 Sports Crystal Ball for Mudiay, you'll see that there’s a very significant chance that he ends up in Kentucky. Every year Calipari is at Kentucky, he will continue to pull in the top point guard recruits in the country, and then hand them off to the NBA via a top 15 draft pick.
If Ulis goes to Kentucky, he could light Rupp Arena on fire and leave school after 1 year for the 2015 NBA draft all while revolutionizing the way scouts looks at a point guard’s height. Or, he could spend 4 years (or less if he transfers out) buried behind future NBA first rounders on the depth chart.
A Kentucky offer does change things dramatically. So what should Ulis do? I can’t say I have the answer. The B1G teams went from the driver’s seat, to hoping that Ulis spurns the greatest NBA talent producer in college basketball history.
What do the B1G teams offer that Kentucky doesn’t? Playing time. At either Michigan State or Iowa, Ulis would likely be a contributor that would be counted on for all four years of school, while starting at least 3 of those years. Iowa is a program on the rise, and Ulis could help Iowa continue their ascent to the top of the B1G. Michigan State is already a nationally elite program, and Ulis could hopefully be the first domino in a 2014 recruiting class that would allow Michigan State to challenge for Izzo’s 2nd (or maybe even 3rd) national title.
In short, go B1G or go home.