Julius Randle had an opportunity to play college basketball at any school in the country. He made the wrong choice by picking Kentucky.
With this commitment, John Calipari has now put together one of the best recruiting classes in history. Randle join twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, plus James Young, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee. All of these players are 5-star recruits and will likely play in the NBA before long.
After watching their team miss the NCAA tournament and lose in the first round of the NIT this past season, Kentucky fans have to be thrilled about the future.
This is a squad that has the opportunity to come together and immediately be one of the best teams in the country. A second national championship in three years is certainly not out of the question.
Of course, the team could be even stronger if the current freshmen decide to stay. After the loss to Robert Morris, Willie Cauley-Stein, Ryan Harrow and Alex Poythress all hinted at returning. However, Archie Goodwin summed it up best (via Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal):
Things might change when these players realize that they could still end up being lottery picks in the NBA draft, but for now, it seems like this will be a loaded team next season.
However, this is where there is a problem. Of course, Randle could be part of a great college team next season and win a lot of games, but that would not necessarily be the best move for his future.
Considering the forward's pure talent, it would not be surprising if he starts right away for the Wildcats. However, minutes will likely be limited as the head coach looks to get enough playing time to every one of his star recruits.
In addition, all of these top players will want to show off their skill to professional scouts every time they get the ball. Regardless of who is on the floor, the amount of touches going to the big man will likely be more limited than it would be on a different team.
Randle will certainly end the year with less time on the floor and fewer opportunities to see the basketball than any other team on his list. This will slow down his development as he prepares for the next level.
He could also end up losing playing time by making simple mistakes that are normal for freshmen but would be unacceptable on a title contender. Coach Calipari would have plenty of options on the bench if he keeps his players on a tight leash.
This will cause Randle to be more hesitant while playing. Not being able to learn from his mistakes will also keep him from reaching his potential.
College is obviously a time to enjoy yourself, and it would certainly be fun to win a lot of games with other great players. However, the Texas native has to look beyond the one year he will spend in school and think about his long future in the NBA.
With Kentucky, he could end up lowering his draft stock and hindering his development. Conversely, another school would allow him more freedom where he would have shined.
Then again, LeBron James has shown us that it is easier to join a great team than create one for yourself.