Julius Randle said it himself, “North Carolina blue is a beautiful color.”
That it is. And the No. 3-ranked prospect for 2013, according to Scout.com, would look perfect in it.
The beauty of the color goes beyond its visual appeal, however.
Tar Heel blue is the color so many NCAA and NBA legends have donned—you know the names. If you don't, just check the rafters at the Dean Dome. Or take a walk through the Naismith and NBA Halls of Fame.
It is the color of champions.
While Carolina is third on the list of all-time titles, no program has pulled in more since the 1980s. Only one other team can match their four, but their blue just isn't as flattering.
As a matter of fact, 14 former Tar Heels went on to win 29 NBA titles—the most of any college program. That “other” program has three. Counting coaches and general managers, 42 rings are spread among UNC alumni.
Julius Randle could easily fit that pedigree.
Randle is a physical specimen who doesn't hesitate to use every bit of his 6'9” 225-pound frame to attack the paint. And if Joel James is the sleeper I have projected him to be, that would be a nasty duo in the post. A duo that would not only rival John Henson and Tyler Zeller, but one that would possibly blow them out of the water.
Both have dominant power games, almost thriving on physical contact. James is a defensive monster, and Randle can play defenders face-up or with his back to the basket. One player's weakness is the other's strength.
The paint would not be a safe place for their opponents on either side of the floor. That kind of physicality would be great to have in Roy Williams' inside-out game.
That may not be so good for then sophomore Brice Johnson or fellow 2013 five-star prospect Isaiah Hicks, however. I don't think either player committed to North Carolina just to have the best seat in the house—and I would truly feel for them.
I have a solution for all parties, though. Julius Randle's game could easily translate to the three.
While he isn't a lights-out shooter yet, the southpaw has an excellent stroke and a range that extends beyond the arc. He can also take it all the way to the rim from the top of the key. His dribbles were already beyond that of your usual high school junior.
So are his moves.
Slashing to the basket, Julius Randle will change speeds, spin or lay down a sweet crossover to gain an advantage. There is just no clumsy in this man-child. And if all else fails, he will just plow through his opponents.
In my opinion, the only thing he needs to develop is consistency from deep. It definitely wouldn't take much to get him acquainted with the small forward position.
While he is a very good defender, his mechanical flaws could cause him problems in the post—a minor wrinkle Roy Williams should have no problem ironing out. He isn't a shot blocker like Johnson or Hicks, but that has a lot to do with defensive positioning and his length.
Defending the quicker small forwards would be the biggest challenge for Randle at the three.
There is no doubt of Julius Randle's versatility, though. I wouldn't mind seeing him at either position, as long as he is sporting the right color. It appears he wouldn't mind the fashion statement or the Roy Williams system.
“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 an interview with Five Star Basketball.
Julius Randle also had great things to say about Coach Williams 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.”
And the program, itself?
“It’s hard not to be impressed with UNC and its fans,” he went on to say in the blog.
From all of us in Tar Heel Nation, we say “thank you” Randle. We kind of feel the same way.
UNC doesn't just recruit talent—they recruit people. Julius Randle has the character, the talent and the drive to be a perfect fit in that Tar Heel mold. Not to mention his apparent affinity for Carolina blue.