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April 22nd, 2014

Julius Randle’s Wednesday News and Views

 Jonathan Daniel | Getty Images

Jonathan Daniel | Getty Images

On Tuesday, Julius Randle announced he would enter the NBA Draft. It was by far the most predictable of the eight decisions we’ve been waiting on, but it wasn’t one taken lightly, according to Julius. In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Julius said he enjoyed his time at Kentucky so much that he actually considered coming back, despite being a projected top five pick. Julius spoke fondly of the season, and how he and his teammates became “brothers” by the end, coming up one game short of their ultimate goal. In fact, that great story Aaron Harrison so famously spoke about? Julius says he’ll tell it to his grandkids one day:

“It was, like I said, an experience I’ll never forget. Just all the adversity that we went through all year, and to finally have the opportunity to play for a national championship and to see how we came together during a postseason run, it’s just something I’ll never forget. And like I said, it’ll always — I’ll grow old one day and I’ll be able to tell my children or grandchildren about something that I did when I was 19 years old. It’ll always be a memory for me.”

Randle is now John Calipari’s twelfth one-and-done suceeder-and-proceeder at Kentucky, joining an elite group of freshmen, all ten of which have been drafted in the first round. Six of those were top ten picks, and Julius will surely be the next. He led all players in the country in double-doubles this season with 24, the second most by a freshmen in Division I history, behind only Michael Beasley with 28. All of that while being double and tripled teamed more than any other UK player I can remember. Cal calls it getting “Shaq’d,” and says that because of that, he believes Randle will be an even better pro than a college player. I’ve gotta agree.

Even five years into the John Calipari era, saying goodbye to players after only one season hasn’t gotten easier. It’s a cruel process, especially for a fan base as passionate as the Big Blue Nation. To us, these players are family, and it seems like it’s only when we really get to know them best that it’s time for them to head out the door. Until the rule changes, sadly, that’s just how it goes. But, over the past five years, I think the BBN has also learned that goodbye isn’t really goodbye. Players make a point to come back to campus, not only to get their degree, but to help the program and Calipari out, and reconnect with fans. James and Julius are good kids, and I’d expect to see them both at pro camps and alumni games down the line.

In fact, Julius couldn’t have been more complimentary of the program and Calipari in the press conference, calling Cal his “biggest supporter,” and thanking him and the rest of the staff for the “countless hours” they spent working with him, “night in and night out.” Randle added that when Cal told him that playing at Kentucky would be “the hardest thing you’ve ever done,” he didn’t really believe him, but once he was “in the fire,” he found out it was true, and more than anything, it’s helped him prepare for what’s next, on the court, and in life: “I think that’s really grown me as a person more than even as a basketball player, I think you can say, because I learned how to deal with things and I can apply it to life as well.”

Want to wish Julius good luck in person? Here’s his autograph tour schedule:

Thursday, April 24 – Wildcat Wearhouse – Ashland 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Friday, April 25 – Hillbilly Days – Pikeville – 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 26 – Hillbilly Days – Pikeville – 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 26 – Lexington Sports Card – 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 27- Elizabethtown Mall – 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 29 – Tin Roof – Louisville – 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Randle doing his interview with Matt and Ryan Monday night.

Randle doing his interview with Matt and Ryan Monday night.

On Tuesday night, Randle taped an interview with Matt and Ryan, which will be air during the morning show (live from spring practice). I can’t wait to hear Ryan ask him about his cramps.

Who’s next?

Here’s the rundown on the latest rumblings in each player’s decision:


ALEX POYTHRESS: Poythress met with Calipari on Monday afternoon, and from what we’ve heard, the meeting went well. Our Alex Poythress expert, Ryan Lemond, says he still expects Alex will be back because that’s the decision Alex wants to make. Kyle Tucker, who previously had said Alex’s decision may be contingent on the Harrison Twins because of concerns about playing time, said on Tuesday that’s not the case anymore, and that Alex’s meeting with Cal cleared up any issues about that. The bottom line is, Alex isn’t even on most mock drafts, and could not only improve his stock by coming back, he can get his degree. Of those that are left, that makes his decision simplest of all to me.


DAKARI JOHNSON: Dakari’s a bit of a different case, considering he’s projected as a solid second round pick, with some scouts saying he could slip into the end of the first round. However, Dakari’s upside is so big that he can improve his stock more than any of the others by coming back. He needs to decide whether he wants to work on his conditioning and skills at UK or most likely, in the D-League is he goes out. We’re hearing his decision will come on Wednesday.

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THE TWINS: We know this is true: on Tuesday afternoon/evening, the Twins and their dad had a meal somewhere in Lexington. You laugh, but the Twins’ decision is by far the most closely followed of the bunch, to the point that we got several “Twins spottings” throughout the day, which really only told us this: their dad came back to Kentucky with them. Their dad is very close to them, even coming to Lexington during one point of the season to help them through some struggles, so this isn’t surprising to me. At some point on Tuesday, the Twins had their meeting with Cal, and outside of that, there’s no use guessing what will happen. They’re not talking.

The Spring Game is coming…

One crappy thing about these draft decisions has been it’s bumped the Spring Game to the side, but over the next few days, we’ll try to shift our focus to football as much as we can. As I mentioned earlier, Matt, Ryan, and Drew will be live from spring practice in the morning. During the first hour, we’ll hear Julius’ interview and talk about the draft, and in the second hour, they’ll shift the focus to football and talk to Neal Brown and Mark Stoops.

See you then.

Julius Randle Reaction Round-Up

Well today it finally happened. The moment we all knew was coming ever since young Mr. Randle put on a UK hat one year ago in his Dallas press conference. Still, knowing it was coming doesn’t make it any easier. As a key part of a run to the title game Randle earned his spot among the legends of Kentucky and will go down as one of the most beloved players of the Cal era. With Julius declaring let’s take a look at what the pundits had to say about his decision:

[ESPN Via AP: Julius Randle Enters The NBA Draft]

Forward Julius Randle will leave Kentucky after one season to enter the NBA draft, where he is expected to be among the top five selections.

With five days left before the deadline for underclassmen to declare, the 6-foot-9 Dallas native announced the decision many expected even before he arrived as part of Kentucky’s best-ever recruiting class. Projected as a lottery pick from the outset, Randle solidified his draft stock by leading Kentucky (29-11) to the NCAA final behind a string of double-doubles despite being double- and triple-teamed.

[UK Athletic's Guy Ramsey: Quickly as it went by, Randle won't forget time at UK]

The 6-foot-9 forward arrived with a five-star pedigree and delivered. He was a dominant force from the beginning of the season onward in spite of facing double and triple teams after a 27-point, 13-rebound performance against Michigan State. Randle averaged 15.0 points and 10.4 rebounds, garnering Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year honors in the process.

“I would say my one year here was fantastic because (John Calipari) goes into your home when he recruits you and he says, ‘It’s going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done,’ ” Randle said. ” ‘You’re going to work the hardest you ever did.’ You say OK, but you may not believe it. But once you’re in the fire, what he said is true.”

[SB Nation: Julius Randle declares, but how good of a pro prospect is he?]

Randle’s combination of strength and touch around the rim made him a force in college, but there are concerns about him at the next level. It’s mostly because he struggles finishing over length due to a wingspan that will be one of the shortest among starting NBA power forwards.

Another concern for Randle centers on his ability to develop a face-up game. As more and more power forwards are asked to stretch the floor to keep the paint unclogged, Randle is going to have to focus on improving his range if he’s going to be an All-Star-caliber player.

Randle is on to the association and I couldn’t be happier for the kid. He is making his dream a reality and it’s a great thing to see. What was your reaction to Randle’s announcement?

Julius Randle taped his interview with KSR tonight…


…and it was awesome, according to Matt and Ryan. Randle sat down with the guys for about a half hour to talk about his career at UK and his future in the NBA, and Matt said he opened up more than he has all year, which resulted in a great interview.

Tune into KSR tomorrow morning to hear it. The show will be live from spring practice, so there’s plenty to get excited about.

Julius Randle’s top moments at Kentucky

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

It’s time to say goodbye to Julius Randle. Earlier today, Randle announced he will enter the draft, hardly a surprise given that he’s a top five prospect. Randle came to UK as the most heralded of a highly touted freshmen class, and lived up to all of our lofty expectations. Before we break out the Sarah McLachlan tape, let’s look back at some of the best moments from Julius’ career at Kentucky…

The second half of the Michigan State game

The Champions Classic was billed as the nation’s first look at three highly-touted freshmen: Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Julius Randle. Randle struggled in the first half against Michigan State, but stormed out in the second, leading a Kentucky comeback that came up just short. Randle was dominant, scoring 23 of his 27 points in the second half to go along with 13 rebounds. He fought off double teams and showed that when he’s on–really on–he’s unstoppable.

The first half against Louisville (and I guess the cramps)

On today’s show, Ryan Lemond said he’ll remember Julius Randle most for his cramps during the Louisville game. I’d argue that Randle’s 17 points during the first half of that game were much more memorable. Randle manhandled (or manRANDLEd?? Eh???) Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harrell in the paint before the cramps sidelined him.

It’s okay, Ryan. I will say that because of Randle, I learned more about cramp remedies this season than in any of my twenty-nine years of being a woman.

The game winner against LSU

In terms of big game moments, this is at the top for me. Down to LSU by one with eleven seconds left in overtime, Andrew Harrison kicked it out to James Young on the perimeter, who drove the lane and slipped, the ball flying loose. Julius scooped it up and in to the basket with 3.9 seconds left, giving the Cats the win. Randle had only eight points in the game, but the last two mattered the most.


The spin move

As much as we love Julius, that spin move had everyone in the Bluegrass groaning by March. Julius’ spin move worked wonders against high school competition, but after a few games, everyone had it figured out. However, in small doses and against the right matchups, it can be deadly, as we learned during the Wichita State game.

The putback dunk against Wichita State

After Cleanthony Early hit yet another three to put Wichita State up by nine at the start of the second half, things didn’t look good for the Kentucky. However, in what became their trademark, the Cats clawed back, led by Julius Randle. In one of those moves that only he could pull off, Julius grabbed the rebound off James Young’s missed jumper and slammed it in one-handed. That sparked a 10-0 run by the Cats, and eventually, the win. It’s only fitting that for Julius and this team, a rebound started it all.


All of his faces

I couldn’t pick just one, but Cal did:


The assist to Aaron Harrison against Louisville

A common refrain this season was “PASS THE BALL, JULIUS!,” so I thought it fitting to include the one pass that was above all the rest. With under a minute left against Louisville, Randle spun into the paint only to be faced by five defenders, so he passed the ball out to Aaron Harrison, who was wide open on the perimeter. The rest is sweet, Cardinal-beating history.

What’s your favorite Julius Randle memory?

Coach Naivar was Mic’d Up up practice yesterday

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Charges against Terrence Jones dropped

Terrence Jones found himself in a little off-the-court trouble last summer when he was arrested after police said he yelled at a homeless man and then stomped on his leg. Today, a judge agreed to dismiss the harassment charge against Jones after a civil compromise was reached. The former Wildcat must pay $10,000 to a charity that helps the homeless, but he’s clear of any charges.

Jones and his Houston Rockets teammates will be back on the court tomorrow night in Game 2 of their series with the Portland Trailblazers. Portland stole home court advantage with a win in Game 1 despite a double-double effort from Jones.

NBA’s Terrence Jones has criminal charge in Portland dropped; civil compromise reached

SportsNation is really upset about Randle’s decision

And they think we are too.

Thankfully we have had almost a year to prepare for Randle’s departure. I don’t think his choice has shocked anyone, really. I think they forgot about the four McDonald All-American freshmen we have coming to join our team next season. Not to mention the ones we already have on our bench, give or take those who still have to decide if they’re returning or not.

We will be just fine, SportsNation, but thanks for the concern.

Calipari does not want your bacon


John Calipari is currently signing copies of his new book in Owensboro this evening and one fan, Chris Riley, stopped by to offer him some bacon. Calipari declined the delicious gift, a move he’ll one day regret when the entire world runs out of it.

Well played, Chris.

Julius Randle will be a guest on the radio show tomorrow morning


We have a huge show planned for Kentucky Sports Radio radio tomorrow morning, ladies and gentlemen. If you’re one of those occasional listeners, it’s going to be two hours you certainly want to catch.

Matt Jones, Ryan Lemond and I will be at the football facility early in the morning to get a look behind the scenes at spring football before we plug in the equipment right there at Nutter for the show. We’ll be joined by a few of the coaches to discuss the spring and expectations for the fall, plus whatever else comes up.

When we’re not talking football, which will be the topic throughout most of the show, we’ll be joined by a very special guest when Julius Randle comes on to discuss his decision to enter the NBA draft.

It’s going to be a good one. Don’t miss it.

Calipari visited Harry Giles today on his 16th birthday

The No. 1 overall player in the 2016 class opened up his High Point, North Carolina doors to John Calipari this morning for a friendly chat on his 16th birthday. That player is none other than Harry Giles, a 6-foot-10 power forward with a long list of offers that includes one from the University of Kentucky. Giles is one of three current high school sophomores with an offer from UK.

Calipari’s visit came a day after Giles tweeted a photo with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who he referred to as his “big homie.” Maybe big homie can push him toward Lexington in a couple of years.

Watch Randle’s announcement

Calipari on Randle: “He will be an even better pro”

Getty Images | Lance King

Getty Images | Lance King

Calipari did not attend Julius Randle’s press conference this afternoon but he used his Twitter device to release a statement about his soon-to-be top five pick:

“I truly believe that Julius Randle will be an even better pro than a college player. He was Shaq’d all year – in every way. I really appreciate all that he did for this program and how he represented all of us throughout the entire year. I cannot wait to watch him shine at the next level.”

Cal is exactly right, too — not that he needs me to validate his statement. Julius won’t be drawing double and triple-teams in the NBA so he’ll have better opportunities to shine offensively. Just think if a team paired him up with a center that does draw lots of double and triple-teams like, oh, I don’t know, say, DeMarcus Cousins?

Mama Julius gets a lot of the credit for teaching him the game

After raving about the university, the city of Lexington, and all of the people she and Julius met over the last year at UK, Carolyn Kyles, his mother, took credit for preparing Julius for basketball at a young age.

“You’re going to laugh at this but it’s that famous spin move!” she said, surrounded by a mob of TV reporters and cameras. Kyles took credit for teaching Julius his go-to move.

Julius, standing off by himself behind the media, laughed at the attention his mom was receiving after his announcement. “Look at my mom!” he shouted to his friends.

What an exciting day for both of them.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Willie Cauley-Stein’s boot and Alex Poythress watched the announcement


Jon Hood and Tod Lanter were also in attendance, along with Julius’ mother, AAU coach and several other friends and family members.

Willie and that scooter are inseparable.

Randle: “Kentucky will always have a special place in my heart”

 Jonathan Daniel | Getty Images

Jonathan Daniel | Getty Images

Did Julius ever consider a return to Kentucky for a second season? He says yes, he did.

“I’m definitely going to miss it,” Randle said of his time at UK. “Kentucky will always have a special place in my heart.”

Randle called it an experience he’ll never forget, and though it hurt to fall one game shy of the ultimate goal, he loved every minute of the ride. He said he looks forward to the day he sits down with his children and then their children to tell them about his time as a member of the Kentucky basketball program.

But in the end, the NBA was always the dream and the current opportunity to go into the draft as a projected top five pick is too good to pass up.

Julius Randle to enter the NBA Draft


He’s gone, folks. No more Julius Randle in a Kentucky uniform.

In the least shocking piece of Kentucky basketball news in the last year, Julius Randle announced this afternoon that he will forego his sophomore, junior and senior seasons at UK to enter the NBA Draft. Randle sat in front of the Lexington media in the bowels of Memorial Coliseum to publicly announce his intentions to join the league, or what the kids like to call “get money.” He leaves behind 22 double-doubles and hundreds of bizarre facial expressions from the 2013-14 college basketball season. He will be missed.

More from Randle’s press conference to come in just a bit…