UK BASKETBALL | Tyler Ulis "can't wait" to take over as team leader, avenge Final Four loss

10/12/2015 09:27 PM

LEXINGTON — He’s only 19 years old, but sophomores are considered veterans at the NBA factory that is the University of Kentucky, and point guard Tyler Ulis is ready and excited to assume the role of team leader for the Wildcats in 2015-16.

  • “Most definitely — I can’t wait,” Ulis told KSTV. “I’m really excited for this season. Last year Andrew and Aaron [Harrison] took more of a leadership role because me and [Devin Booker] were just coming in as guards, and we had to sit back. But with a year of experience, I’m now used to it, and I can’t wait.”

The former McDonald’s All-American played mostly in a backup role behind the Harrison twins during his freshman campaign, averaging 5.6 points and 3.6 assists in just over 23 minutes of court action per game.

But with Kentucky’s top-seven scorers from last year, including Aaron and Andrew, are now gone to the NBA, the team reigns are Ulis’ to take in 2015-16, and he’ll have a unique mix of both young and veteran talent playing alongside him.

  • “I think we’re going to be really good,” Ulis said of Kentucky’s revamped roster. “We have three guards who are very different. I feel like we’re going to have a lot of fun in the backcourt, especially with who [Isaiah Briscoe] plays, and Jamal [Murray] is pretty craft. I think it’s going to be fun with Alex [Poythress] back, Marcus [Lee] looking very different, Skal [Labissiere] is a great player, and Charles [Matthews] is a lot better than people think. With everyone else coming in, I feel like we’re all going to click as a team.”

After reloading with their sixth No. 1 recruiting class in seven years this summer, John Calipari and the Wildcats will make another run at another Final Four this season and a chance to avenge their perfection-ending loss in the national semifinals earlier this year.

  • “I wouldn’t say it’s a lesson but a feeling — a feeling you never want to happen again,” Ulis said. “Everybody knows how it feels to lose, but not everybody knows how it feels to be 38-0 and get to that point where you have to be 40-0 to win the national title, and then you fall short, and the whole world is very happy about it, and it feels like everything was just a waste.”

Click below to watch Ulis’ complete interview and KSTV’s discussion on whether or not he can lead Kentucky back to the Final Four:

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