High School: Iowa Hawkeyes

Ulis receives Kentucky offer

August, 16, 2013
8/16/13
7:40
PM CT
Marian Catholic senior point guard Tyler Ulis received an offer from Kentucky while on an unofficial visit on Friday, according to his father.

Ulis, a 5-foot-9 point guard from Matteson, Ill., recently named Iowa Kentucky, Michigan State and USC his four finalists. He had previously received offers from the other three other schools, but not from Kentucky.

“[Kentucky made the list because] of the success they have had there recently,” Ulis’ father, James Ulis, recently said when his son cut his list. “John Calipari has produced the most point guards in recent years and has taken them right to the NBA. He obviously knows how to coach point guards. He knows how to put them in positions to lead the team. He’s a tough coach. There’s accountability from Day 1 to win and win at a high level.”

Ulis is ranked No. 38 overall and the No. 8 point guard in the Class of 2014 by ESPN.
Marian Catholic senior point guard Tyler Ulis named Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan State and USC as his four finalists on Thursday, according to his father.

Ulis, a 5-foot-9 point guard from Matteson, Ill., is ranked No. 38 overall and the No. 8 point guard in the Class of 2014 by ESPN. He eliminated DePaul, Florida State, Northwestern and Purdue from the schools he was considering.

[+] EnlargeTyler Ulis
AP Photo/Damen Jackson/Triple Play New Media

DePaul, Florida State, Northwestern and Purdue are out for point guard Tyler Ulis, who has narrowed his prospective college choices to Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan State and USC.

“It’s been a long time coming for him,” Ulis’ father, James Ulis, said in a phone interview on Thursday night. “He always felt like he could play at this level. It’s nice for him to be rewarded and people can see it.”

Ulis holds offers from Iowa, Michigan State and USC, but not from Kentucky. James said Kentucky coach John Calipari has expressed interest in Ulis and believes an offer could be coming.

“There’s mutual interest,” James said. “We’ve had the opportunity to talk to Coach Calipari, and they basically said Tyler is a great point guard, great leader and they would love to give him an opportunity to run their program. Coach Cal wants to get to know Tyler and us to get to know him.”

Kentucky made the list because of its recent successes, James Ulis said.

“John Calipari has produced the most point guards in recent years and has taken them right to the NBA,” he said. “He obviously knows how to coach point guards. He knows how to put them in positions to lead the team. He’s a tough coach. There’s accountability from Day 1 to win and win at a high level.”

While Kentucky is the newest suitor of Ulis, Iowa has been on him the longest.

“What I love about [Iowa coach Fran McCaffery] is from the beginning he clearly stated Tyler was the point guard to lead his team,” James said. “What is being said about Ty now is what Fran said about him last year. We also like the offense that Fran runs, and Fran is just a great guy. Tyler will get an opportunity to play the style he wants to play.”

Style also factored in Ulis’ decision to keep USC on his list. Ulis was attracted by the fast-paced game USC coach Andy Enfield used while previously at Florida Gulf Coast.

“Tyler really loves his offense, that open style of game -- pass, run-and-gun and open space,” James said. “They get up and down the court. They get after it. He’s coached in the NBA and obviously has some shooting videos out. He’s a great shooting coach. I think for Ty to go to the next level he has to knock down the 3 consistently.”

Michigan State also made the cut for a variety of reasons.

“Michigan State, obviously the tradition at point guard; I’m a big Magic Johnson fan,” James said. “They’ve won. They’re had success. You want your kid to play for Coach [Tom] Izzo. They always get some really good players. Obviously the family tie, [Tyler’s cousin] Travis Walton played there.”

James said no in-state schools made his son’s final list because the other schools were better fits. DePaul and Northwestern had been recruiting Ulis, and his family created relationships with DePaul coach Oliver Purnell and Northwestern coach Chris Collins. The family also recently heard from Illinois, but James said it was too late in the process to consider Illinois.

“Illinois recently reached out to us concerning Tyler,” James said. “It would be tough to go that direction because they were going another direction before. We respect that. I didn’t know the reason they hadn’t approached Tyler [previously]. We were told they weren’t going to recruit another point guard in 2014. Once Tyler did what he did [on the club travel scene], Coach [John] Groce reached out.”

James said his son plans to set up official visits in September and decide on a school before the early signing period in November.

LFA's Ekakitie commits to Iowa

December, 8, 2011
12/08/11
4:21
PM CT
Lake Forest Academy senior defensive end Faith Ekakitie has committed to Iowa.

Ekakitie, who is 6 foot 2 and 280 pounds, chose the Hawkeyes after also considering Boston College, Georgia Tech, Northwestern and Oregon. He is ranked the No. 26 defensive end in the Class of 2012 by ESPN.

"I think Iowa is getting a player with tremendous upside," Lake Forest Academy coach Ted Stewart said. "The kid's still very new to football. He’s only played it for three years. I think he still has a long way to go. I don't think he goes in and starts from Day 1. But if he develops the way I think he's going to, I think he's going to be an elite college player."

Ekakitie transferred to Lake Forest Academy as a sophomore from Canada. He played linebacker his first season and moved to defensive end the past two years.

As a senior, he had 56 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, eight sacks, one interception, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

Ekakitie handled his recruitment unlike most high-profile players. He avoided interviews in recent months and also declined an interview through his coach for this story. Instead, he created a blog (faithflex.com) and chronicled his recruiting.

His blog was also how he announced his commitment and broke down his decision. His entry included how he considered Oregon, but had his offer rescinded after the Ducks took another commitment, and how his GPA was "approximately .2" below what Northwestern's admissions required.

"What would be the deciding factor between BC and Iowa?" Ekakitie wrote in his blog. “A Gut feeling. That’s all, not the coaches, players, degrees, or even football. It all really came down to where I truly felt at home. And I'm proud and extremely happy to announce that the gut feeling has led me to continue my career at the University of Iowa."

Stewart admired the way Ekakitie handled the entire recruiting process.

"He did it the way recruiting is supposed to be done," Stewart said. "He was very honest. He was very forthcoming with coaches. I think that's a breath of fresh air in today's recruiting. There are guys who commit somewhere and commit somewhere else the next week. He was 100 percent where he was going."

Ekakitie was the fourth Class of 2012 Chicago-area football player to commit to the Iowa. The Hawkeyes now have a total of 13 players in the class.

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