The 2016 NBA Draft gets going tonight at 5 p.m. PT in New York. I normally would not have an open thread for the draft, but I came across some interesting information. SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell wrote up a profile on Kentucky prospect Tyler Ulis. People think Ulis is too small, but the profile goes into how he played himself into a Division I prospect. He was overlooked, but AAU basketball leading up to his senior season allowed to break out. And he did it while coached by former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Tai Streets.
Ulis had played himself into D1 prospect, but he was still overlooked in many national recruiting rankings. That all changed the summer going into his senior year when he blew up on the grassroots circuit playing for Meanstreets.
Head coach Tai Streets had been around elite athletes his entire life. He caught touchdown passes at Michigan from Tom Brady and lined up alongside Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens with the 49ers. Even he was astounded at what Ulis was doing. By the time Ulis went off for 22 points and 17 rebounds against Tyus Jones in front of every coach in the country at Peach Jam, the secret was out.
"He was the best player on the court every time we stepped out," Streets told SB Nation. "It was just one by one demolition."
Kentucky offered a scholarship on the spot. Three weeks later, Ulis announced he had picked the Wildcats over Michigan State and Iowa.
Tai Streets was one of my favorite 49ers when he was playing. It was an odd choice, but it was mostly because I remembered how he had come to join the team. Streets was a very good wide receiver in college, and was viewed as a potential second round pick. However, he tore his Achilles while playing basketball in the weeks leading up to the 1999 NFL Draft and dropped to sixth round. The 49ers placed him on the NFI list to start training camp, but activated him in the closing weeks of the season. I don’t imagine he was the 49ers first “medical red-shirt” type of player, but he was a prominent one. His best season came in year four, when he had 72 receptions for 756 yards and five touchdowns. He played one more year with the 49ers, before spending his final NFL season with the Detroit Lions.
Back in 2001, while still playing football, he launched Meanstreets basketball as part of AAU. The team started as just 14 and under, but has expanded and it sounds like it is pretty well respected. The best prospect to come from the team is New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis. Mock drafts have suggested Ulis could be a late first round to middle second round pick.
The NBA Draft is always a bit odd given how quickly it happens after the NBA Finals wrap up. I’m so used to the NFL Draft, which happens three months after the Super Bowl with the draft process such a huge series of events. The MLB Draft occurred earlier this month during the middle of the MLB season, and the NHL Draft takes place this week, a couple weeks removed from the Stanley Cup Finals. A little something different for everyone.