College Basketball: Top 5 Destinations for No. 2 Recruit Julius Randle

Rollin YeattsFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2012

College Basketball: Top 5 Destinations for No. 2 Recruit Julius Randle

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    Is Julius Randle a one-and-done or a two-and-through player? The answer could give a clue as to where he might land.

    However, that answer appears to be under lock and key, along with his list of top destinations for 2013.

    Powerhouses such as Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke and Kansas have put in their offers on the nation's No. 2 recruit. Despite the "intuition" of many fanbases, Randle has given little indication of who is at the top of his supposedly non-existent list—and it may not even be the four I just listed. Seven more teams have offered him, including home state favorites TCU, Texas and Baylor.

    “They both [Baylor and Texas] don’t have national championships, so to go to any one of those schools and give them their first national championship, that would be amazing,” Randle said in an interview with Five Star Basketball.

    If anything, it looks like he is shooting for a national championship—and my guess is that it would have to be done in one to two years. Julius Randle just isn't three or four-year talent in this era of college basketball.

    I firmly believe the coach, scheme and potential for a quick national title will be the keys to his selection. But this is nothing more than educated speculation.

    The best I can do is give you where I rank the teams that have shoved offers at him, give you some teaser quotes and let your own psychic powers take it from there.

    With Randle's best interests in mind and the use of deductive reasoning at it's best, I have reduced his list of 11 programs to my own top five.

The Others

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    Before I break down my top five programs for Julius Randle, I feel I should at least glance over the runners-up and tell you why they didn't make the list.

    Among the 11 offers to Julius Randle is Oklahoma. I don't see him going to a place he won't have a shot at a championship with. Not that they couldn't build off of him, but it would take more than two years for contention—and Randle doesn't have that kind of time.

    TCU is in the same spot with their offer.

    They do have a little more pull, given they are hometown favorites. But I read a little more into another quote from his interview with Five Star Basketball. Randle said, “Just to be a hometown guy and go to a hometown school, they would love that.”

    Yes, they would Julius Randle. I don't think I need to tell him it wouldn't be in his best interests.

    Texas is a possibility after a strong No. 4-ranked 2012 recruiting class, but I'm not sure Randle automatically makes them title contenders. If he wants to stay in Texas, I see him picking another team that is closer to making the big dance.

    Duke and Ohio State (of late) are both big-time and have excellent coaches but their slower style of play doesn't appear to fit Julius Randle's desire to run.

    Missouri does, however, and they are the most likely of these programs to slide into his top five—if they aren't already there.

    My top five is a different story, though.

5. Baylor

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    There is a dark horse in every race, and I believe Baylor is that dark horse.

    Baylor made it all the way to the Elite Eight in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, but lost major cogs from that run with Quincy Acy, Quincy Miller and Perry Jones III heading to the NBA. Leading scorer Pierre Jackson will also be gone by 2013.

    Despite those losses, Baylor will still be in the mix. And with Quincy Miller out of the way, there is room to slide Randle right in.

    Head coach Scott Drew has gotten it done on the recruiting trail and on the floor.

    The Bears have reached the Elite Eight in two straight seasons. Drew has followed up that run, bringing in the nation's No. 5 recruiting class for 2012—which consists of three ESPN 100 players.

    Isaiah Austin will be the 7'0" 5-star anchor in the middle to go with 4-star power forward Ricardo Gathers.

    The team will be led by 2012 recruit L.J. Rose, who looks to be a very promising pass-first point guard. Brady Heslip and Deuce Bello will likely round out the starting lineup for 2013.

    The Baylor Bears look to stay in contention for a title and Julius Randle could catapult them to the top. There's good reason for Randle to take his talents to Waco. Will this be a Texas team he rolls the dice on, though?

4. Kentucky

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    Let's get one thing straight. John Calipari is one of the best coaches in college basketball and the program speaks for itself. I also have no problem with the one-and-done or Calipari loading up with those players.

    The only issue is stability—and that may be enough to push Julius Randle away. As I said before, he will likely only stay one or two years anyway. But some players want to know who will be on the team when they arrive.

    Will Kentucky have a strong foundation in 2013 or will they just be banking on another dominant class of freshmen?

    As we all know, Calipari lost his starting lineup to the NBA draft this year. Those spots will be filled in with four ESPN 100 recruits of 2012—including the No. 1-ranked Nerlens Noel. Will he be there next year, though?

    I kind of doubt that and it is probably why Calipari picked up a 4-star center in Willie Cauley.

    Alex Poythress (No. 13) and Archie Goodwin (No. 15) are both promising prospects, covering the 3 and 2 positions. Will they be gone, too?

    It's a legitimate question and I'm sure Julius Randle is asking the same thing.

    As of now, Kentucky isn't looking great for 2013. They only have one commit—3-star power forward Derek Willis. That isn't to say they won't finish up with a top 10 class, but it's hard to get a feel for where they will be in 2013.

    Again, that's the downside of recruiting mostly one-and-done players.

    Julius Randle also hasn't visited Kentucky since his freshman year and hasn't had much to say about the program in interviews. Despite the prestige that always keeps Kentucky in the hunt for top recruits, it doesn't look promising for the folks in Lexington.

3. Kansas

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    Moving on to Kansas, things start warming up here.

    Though they aren't loaded up with 5-star recruits, Bill Self constantly keeps Kansas in contention. The system also fits Julius Randle very well.

    There is still some question as to where they will stand, come 2013. Their top four scorers from 2011-12 will all be gone by then. Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor were both drafted this year, leaving seniors Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey for their last season in 2012.

    There is a lot of talent waiting in the wings, though.

    Naadir Tharpe will likely take over the duties as floor general. Fellow 2011 recruits Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor were ruled ineligible, missing the entire 2011-12 season. This may work out the best for Kansas, as both will only be sophomores in 2013.

    Self also picked up two more ESPN 100 recruits for 2012, with power forward Perry Ellis and small forward Andrew White. He also has two ESPN 100 shooting guards lined up for 2013.

    Kansas should have eight returning sophomores, two juniors and one senior heading into 2013. With Withey as their lone center on the 2012 roster, that position will be the biggest question for Kansas.

    Unlike Kentucky, you can visualize a promising future for Kansas with what they have. Combine that with Bill Self's high-scoring system and Julius Randle may be very tempted to land on that program.

    “It’s their big men tradition, but it’s other things too, their playing style, how they space the court and I know that Coach Self wants to work with me and has ideas on how to use my versatility,” said Randle of Kansas during an interview with The Devils Den.

    In his ESPN blog, he wrote, “Also, I visited Kansas a little over a month ago and that was one of, if not the best visit that I’ve been on so far. The fans there are just crazy and they’ve got a lot of energy so that was just great.”

2. North Carolina

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    I have a feeling the state of North Carolina may be where Julius Randle finds himself in 2013. It's a toss-up as to which team he chooses, though.

    The great coaching on this list continues with the leadership of Roy Williams. The scheme is also something that Julius Randle finds intriguing. Coach Williams runs a high-octane system that relies on running the ball and feeding the post.

    Julius Randle won't have to worry about how much the ball ends up in his hands. He will have plenty of opportunity to shine in this system.

    This squad will be stacked in 2013 and will be in title contention without Julius Randle. With him, well, that could just be nasty.

    Marcus Paige and Nate Britt will head up the point. J.P. Tokoto is a promising 4-star prospect that will likely start at small forward and Joel James at center. Shooting guards P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald would still be eligible, but may elect to be drafted in 2013.

    Everything looks great for Julius Randle and the Tar Heels—right up until you get to the power forward position.

    I have no doubt that 2012 will be James Michael McAdoo's last season at Carolina. But they just picked up Brice Johnson for 2012 and Isaiah Hicks has verbally committed for 2013—both ESPN 100 prospects at the 4.

    Is Julius Randle willing to shove them aside? Would Hicks pull out of his commitment if that happened?

    This is probably the only reason Randle wouldn't choose North Carolina. He certainly seems sold on the coach and program. And playing with possibly six or seven other ESPN 100 prospects could be very enticing.

    “They get out in transition—I love to run—high pressure defense and you can just tell by the way they play, their style is fun. And plus, North Carolina blue is a beautiful color,” he said in another interview with Five Star Basketball.

    Randle was also hanging with Britt during the interview and has developed a good relationship with the point guard through AAU.

    Julius Randle also had great things to say about the program in his ESPN blog. He said, “I like Coach Williams’ approach. He doesn’t call all the time, he gives me space and he always says he’d much rather talk to me in person. Coach Williams is just a really cool guy.”

    Randle also went on to say, “It’s hard not to be impressed with UNC and its fans.”

1. NC State

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    As good as UNC is looking for Julius Randle, NC State could very well be the leader of the pack.

    Mark Gottfried has turned around the program in just one season as head coach the Wolfpack. He took over a 15-16 and team and turned them into a 24-13 team that made it to the Sweet 16.

    Then he went on to recruit the nation's 10th-best class for 2012—a class that consists of three 4-stars that reside in the top 50 of the ESPN 100 rankings. In that group is also a close friend of Julius Randle—the No.5 shooting guard Rodney Purvis.

    "That's one of my best friends," Randle said of Purvis in an interview with Pack Pride. "He's a really good person. He cares about me. Me and Rodney have become really close throughout the AAU season. We have a pretty good relationship."

    Looking ahead to 2013, it would appear that Lorenzo Brown and Tyler Lewis will be a duo running point. Brown may also slide in for Purvis from time to time at the 2. Fellow 4-star T.J. Warren should make an easy case for the 3 spot.

    C.J. Leslie will probably forego his senior season for the NBA, leaving an open spot at the 4 for Julius Randle.

    They will still need a quality center, come 2013—which is probably Randle's main concern with NC State. They will have to recruit a young big to go with Randle.

    The question is will it take a center to pull in Randle—or Randle to pull in a center?

    Either way, the coach is great, the system fits, they're in contention, his position may be open and one of his best friends is Rodney Purvis.

    “Their playing style is exciting," Randle went on to say in the Pack Pride interview. "Coach Gottfried can coach. He came in and did a major job with the team this year. They have great assistants, great facilities, and great fans. There's nothing I don't like about NC State.”

    Julius Randle doesn't give away too much in his interviews, as far as which program is topping his list. But his most glaring comments seem to highly favor UNC and NC State.

    Randle's home state may be Texas but my bets are on the state of North Carolina.

    But which program? Your guess is as good as mine. This is pure speculation on my part.

    And it appears it will stay that way until Julius Randle makes his official decision.