A recurring theme of recruiting in the Fran McCaffery Era has been Iowa's general inability to land a first-choice point guard. Not since Mike Gesell committed to the program has McCaffery successfully recruited his top selection to the Hawkeyes, and Gesell was a 2012 commit.
Since that time, Iowa has repeatedly gotten into the mix with top-rated point guards, only to be left at the altar. Never was McCaffery closer to sealing the deal than with Tyler Ulis, the diminutive Chicago-based guard in the Class of 2014. Iowa got in on Ulis very early in the process, and remained in play until Ulis had five stars on Rivals and had winnowed the list to the final three, a list that included the Hawkeyes, Michigan State and Kentucky. Of course, Kentucky eventually won out, and Ulis won an SEC Player of the Year award, an SEC Defensive Player of the Year award, consensus first team All-America honors, and a trip to the Final Four in two seasons under John Calipari.
That is why we needed to put aside our Ulis-related post-traumatic stress for a moment Tuesday afternoon and watch as his brother, point guard Ahron Ulis, did the expected and committed to Iowa.
C O M M I T T E D pic.twitter.com/jVukTcWVEk— Ahron Ulis (@Lil_Ulis3) August 6, 2019
Ulis, a three-star recruit, chose Iowa over eleven other programs; of those, only Iowa and the hometown DePaul Blue Demons are in a power conference.
Ahron Ulis is significantly taller than his brother: The younger Ulis is already 6'2" while Tyler was a listed 5'8" coming out of high school. The book on him is that he hasn't developed a consistent outside shot, but can get to the rim. The Register's Matthew Bain has recruiters calling him "pass-first," which certainly isn't a bad thing for a point guard, and just about everyone is calling him some version of tough.
Perhaps most importantly, Ulis is apparently Iowa's first choice at point guard for the Class of 2020. McCaffery has certainly struggled with landing the top-end point guard he covets, but his backup plans -- Jordan Bohannon and Anthony Clemmons in particular, as well as some other guys like Wes Washpun that he missed because he held onto the five-star dream too long -- have ended up being solid contributors. McCaffery and his staff have an eye for talent. They just struggle with getting that talent on campus at times, particularly at this position. Ulis was their first choice, and he's securely in the fold for the 2020-21 season. That's a fairly solid endorsement.
We'll see how Iowa's current set of guards responds this season, and whether Ulis will be essential or bench depth when he arrives on campus next fall. For now, welcome to Iowa City, Ahron. It's always a great day to be a Hawkeye.