Tyler Ulis tabbed one of 10 Bob Cousy Award finalists

Tyler Ulis - photo by Walter Cornett

Sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis has been named one of 10 finalists for the 2016 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Named after Hall of Fame guard Bob Cousy, the annual honor recognizes the top point guard in Division I men’s basketball.

A national committee comprised of top college basketball personnel determined the initial watch list of 20 candidates in October. The final five finalists will be presented to Cousy and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee in March, and the winner will be presented at the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show in Los Angeles on April 8.

Ulis is looking to become the first Kentucky guard to win the award. So far he has the credentials to warrant the honor.

Standing at just 5-foot-9, Ulis has been one of the top players in the country this season, leading Kentucky to a 16-5 record with wins over nationally ranked Duke and Louisville.

Ulis is averaging 16.1 points and a team-best 6.2 assists per game, which ranks second in the Southeastern Conference. He’s now scored 20 or more points in four straight games and eight of his last 10, averaging 20.1 points and 7.1 assists while shooting 51.1 percent over the 10-game stretch.

The Chicago native is the only player in the SEC averaging 16.0 points and 6.0 assists or better. He is one of just five players nationally to achieve that feat (Kahil Felder, Oakland; Kris Dunn, Providence; Juan’Ya Green, Hofstra; Denzel Valentine, Michigan State) and the lone underclassman.

With a career-high 26 points and eight assists at No. 4/3 Kansas on Saturday, Ulis has posted nine games this season with at least 20 points and at least five assists in the same game, the most by a Wildcat in any season since 1972-73.

Ulis’ value is probably best represented by his performances in Kentucky’s biggest games. He’s averaging a team-best 21.7 points and a team-high 7.3 assists in UK’s three games vs. ranked opponents.  He shot 54.5 percent with a 5.5 assist-to-turnover ratio in those games.

Among the accomplishments Ulis has achieved this season:

  • He’s the third player at UK since 1972-73 – and the first since Roger Harden in 1985-86 – with at least four assists in 14 consecutive games in a season
  • He’s the first UK player with 26 points and eight assists in a game since Jack Givens posted 27 points and eight assists vs. Auburn on Feb. 23, 1976
  • He needed just 17 games to top 100 assists in a season, the sixth-fastest pace in program history for 100 or more assists in a single year

Ulis is already a two-time winner of the SEC Player of the Week award and is on the midseason watch lists for the Oscar Robertson Trophy and the John R. Wooden Award, each given to the national player of the year.

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