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Tyler Ulis will join Coach Cal's staff at Arkansas, but loves Kentucky: "Nothing has changed."

Jack PIlgrimby:Jack Pilgrim06/19/24

John Calipari said he would be bringing Tyler Ulis with him to Fayetteville, and now, we have it straight from the horse’s mouth.

Coach Cal said “he’s coming with me to Arkansas” back in early May, but nothing had been finalized or made official publicly in the month-plus since. Now, the former Bob Cousy Award winner has broken his silence to confirm that he’ll be a Razorback once he graduates from the University of Kentucky this summer.

“Yes, I will be joining Cal,” he told Ryan Lemond of KSR on Wednesday. “I’m actually still around a little because I’m still in school. Everyone’s kind of jumping the gun, but I still have to graduate in the next few months. I have a few more credits left and then I’ll go from there.”

Ulis will be spending his time away from class this summer coaching La Familia, Kentucky’s alumni team in The Basketball Tournament (TBT), a squad featuring the likes of Eric Bledsoe (2009-10), Daniel Orton (2009-10), Doron Lamb (2010-12), Marquis Teague (2011-12), Willie Cauley-Stein (2012-15), James Young (2013-14), Andrew Harrison (2013-15), Reid Travis (2018-19), Nate Sestina (2019-20) and Kellan Grady (2021-22) — with more names to come. It’s a chance to show that while his coaching journey is taking him to Fayetteville to stick with Coach Cal, he’s still got all of the love in the world to share with Kentucky basketball and Big Blue Nation.

“Obviously it started with Coach Cal, but this is where I played. This is where I kind of made my name. The fans have shown a lot of love over the years, and I love them as well. This is still somewhere we’ll always love and root for these guys, but me and Coach Cal, Coach Cal’s family, he’s done a lot for me personally both on the court and off the court. That’s my staff, so it’s kind of like switching up on your team. Those guys, learning from them, I’m comfortable with them. I just feel like they have my back, just as well as Kentucky has my back, the fans.

“Nothing has changed, my love doesn’t change. It’s just what’s best right now for my career, it’s the best situation for me.”

Calipari was the coach to give him his first shot as a player, then he was the person to give him his first shot as a coach on Kentucky’s bench. Ulis hopes fans understand and respect his loyalty to Coach Cal, no matter how much love he has for the Wildcats.

“He definitely cares about his players, that’s why you see guys like DeMarcus (Cousins) and those guys talk about him how they do because he’s always cared. He’s always put us first,” Ulis told KSR. “Most kids dream of going to the NBA, so when you get a coach like that — obviously along the way, you want to win. When you get a coach like that who always puts your dreams first, it’s always good for you and your family.”

Seeing him trade out Kentucky blue for Arkansas red as a coach is undoubtedly a tough pill to swallow, but his legacy as an all-time Wildcat on the floor is permanent.

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2024-07-19