John Calipari compares Sahvir Wheeler to former Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis

Aritcle written by:Zack GeogheganZack Geoghegan


<small>(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)<small>
[caption id="attachment_353850" align="aligncenter" width="2560"] (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)[/caption] The Sahvir Wheeler-Tyler Ulis comparisons have been formulating since Wheeler decided to transfer away from Georgia in order to become a Kentucky Wildcat. It's one heck of a compliment for Wheeler, even if the comparison is a bit hard to believe on the surface. After all, Ulis was the SEC Player of the Year and SEC Defensive Player of the Year when he was just a sophomore in 2016. It sets up lofty expectations for Wheeler, who spent the last two seasons at Georgia. As a Bulldog, he didn't win a Player of the Year or Defensive Player of the Year award in Athens and his highest accomplishment yet was when he earned Second-Team All-SEC honors this past season. But the similarities between the two are there, and that's the main point. Wheeler was first asked about the comparison to Ulis when Wheeler was formally introduced to the Kentucky media a couple of weeks ago. "That's cool with me," Wheeler said about the comparison, with a smirk on his face. "Tyler Ulis was the SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year so if I'm getting that comparison I think I'm doing some things right. Obviously, I have to get better to live up to that but I'm super excited. He was a successful guard in college. He was super successful here at the University of Kentucky. I'm really cool with that, but I'm also cool with being the one and only Sahvir Wheeler, as well." The most notable similarity between Wheeler and Ulis is their size. Wheeler is 5-foot-10--a bit undersized for a Power 5 point guard with NBA aspirations--while Ulis clocked in at just 5-foot-8. Wheeler is pesky on defense the same way that Ulis was and they both possess a knack for finding their teammates and running the offense. Head coach John Calipari is buying into the Wheeler-to-Ulis comparisons, as well, stating during his media availability on Friday that Wheeler is the closest player Kentucky has had to Ulis since the latter left for the 2016 NBA Draft. "We've had a kid like him that was a little different than him: Tyler Ulis," Calipari said about Wheeler. "Who could impact the game and was smaller. The talks that [Wheeler] and I have had, it's all about 'Okay, how do we add to what you have that helps you? Here's what I need for you to do to help our team. This is how I need you to play. Here's how we need to help you get where you're trying to go.' And it was the same thing we talked to Tyler Ulis about. Obviously, Tyler was drafted and played in the league and he's had two hip surgeries which have set him back. Here's a kid that was smaller and lighter, so I'm excited about it. Until we get all these guys here and see how these pieces match, you just don't know." The most obvious difference is offensive ability. Ulis could score from all three areas of the floor and used his small stature to his advantage, slicing through defenses to hunt down easy looks for himself and others. Wheeler has some work to do in that department, but he comes to Kentucky with two years of SEC experience under his belt and a confident head on his shoulders.

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