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January 18, 2013

O'Mara and Ulis Shine Thursday Night

Thursday night's high school basketball game between Benet Academy and Marian Catholic showcased two of the premiere junior's in the state of Illinois, Benet's 6'9, 240 pound center Sean O'Mara and Marian Catholic's 5'9, 140 pound point guard Tyler Ulis. Both standout prospects hold scholarship offers from DePaul, along with a slew of other schools.

In a very close game, Benet edged Marian Catholic in a 51-50 victory. O'Mara and Ulis carried their respective teams in front of a raucous Benet crowd (amazing atmosphere for a high school game). DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell caught a first-hand glimpse of the duo DePaul is pursuing.

In the win, O'Mara finished with 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting from the field. He added eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks. He made 5 of 8 free throws.

O'Mara is a traditional back to the basket big man. He did the bulk of his damage in the paint, albeit against a severely undersized Marian Catholic team. He is also very aware of the double-team, which Marian Catholic frequently employed on him. He passed out of the double-team well, which led to open looks for his teammates on the perimeter.

Although he has good size, O'Mara will need to add strength, as he sometimes struggled to establish position on the block against Marian Catholic. His footwork also needs refining; he was called twice for traveling while posting up.

Ulis carried Marian Catholic all night long, almost single-handedly willing his team to a victory. He finished with 25 points on 9 of 14 shooting from the field. He made 3 of 5 three pointers and made all three of his free throw attempts. He also pitched in three rebounds and two assists.

His height is listed at 5'9, but after seeing him in person, I'd say Ulis is closer to 5'7. He's also rail-thin. But after one gets over his diminutive stature, you can't help but appreciate his actual production on the court. He's a dominant guard.

At the high school level, few guards can stay in front of him. His crossover is lethal, combined with his quickness, makes it unfair for his opponents. Because of his ability to drill jumpers off the dribble, opponents are basically in no-man's land when defending him. If they play him tight, he'll get into the lane, where he showcased a solid floater/runner in traffic. If they play off him, he can shoot the ball off the dribble very effectively, thanks to his deep range and quick release.

For all his wizardry offensively, Ulis didn't really stand out defensively. In his defense, he's asked to facilitate the offense and sometimes has to put Marian Catholic on his back, like he did Thursday night. His small size already works against him defensively, so it's something he'll need to address going forward. If he played with the same defensive tenacity that teammate and fellow small guard Ki-Jana Crawford does, Ulis would be devastating. Barring an unexpected Anthony Davis-like growth spurt, Ulis will need to add considerable weight since he likely won't get much taller. Getting stronger would benefit him defensively as well as offensively.

Both O'Mara and Ulis figure to be pursued strongly by DePaul in the coming months. As the current roster stands (including 2013 commits) DePaul has three open scholarships in 2014. O'Mara and Ulis fill positions of need for the Blue Demons, so they're players to keep an eye on. Their recruitment will undoubtedly intensify in the spring/summer recruiting period.


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