CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Tyler Ulis heard all the talk about how he should transfer.
On Facebook, tweets and just plain word of mouth, but the Marian Catholic junior didn't pay any attention.
"They said Marian will never be good. I can play for someone else and a better program," Ulis said. "Well, we are pretty good and we are a pretty good program."
Instead of listening, Ulis worked to get better and despite his size -- he is listed at 5-foot-10, but is maybe 5-7 or 5-8 -- and is the heart of the Spartans' program.
He helped Marian (29-3) to its first sectional title when it beat rival Bloom Township 50-46 Friday for the Class 4A Thornton Sectional title. The Spartans will play Edwardsville (29-2) at 7:30 p.m. today in the Illinois State Supersectional.
"I stayed and I am glad I did," Ulis said. "We struggled a bit when I was a freshman, but we have been more successful each year."
Ulis grew up in Lima, Ohio and moved here the summer before his freshman year. He was considered the top eighth-grade prospect in the state of Ohio.
"There was some pressure there because everyone knew me," Ulis said. "It was good when I came here because at first, nobody knew who I was and I was able to make a name for myself."
While Ulis, the East Suburban Catholic Conference's player of the year, is averaging 21.9 points per game, he also is averaging 4.8 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 points per game. His biggest strength may be his unselfishness said Marian coach Mike Taylor.
"Every day that he has been here he has made the people around him better," Taylor said. "He really gets the other guys involved. Tyler is not afraid to pass or play defense. He knows it takes a team to win. At the same time, the other guys don't mind passing to him, especially when the game is on the line."
Ulis said he and his teammates have that chemistry that teams need to be successful. The Spartans set a program record for wins and Ulis said he is not surprised.
"At the beginning of the year I said we would be 25-3 in the regular season," Ulis said after Friday's win over Bloom. "We wanted to win a few more though (in the postseason)."
"If I am double- or triple-teamed, why not pass to Ki-Jana (Crawford) or Josh (Cohn)? Everybody on this team can score and contribute," Ulis said. "We have a good team and they are a great bunch of guys."
Crawford pointed out that Ulis' down-to-earth style rubs off on he and his teammates.
"His unselfishness is what we notice," Crawford said. "When he needs to shoot, he does, but he gets us all involved. He doesn't care about credit, he just wants to win."