Matt Jones of KentuckySportsRadio.com passed along the top prospect's decision Tuesday following a strong freshman campaign at Kentucky:
Julius Randle declares for NBA Draft— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) April 22, 2014
Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal had a comment from Randle on his thought process:
Randle think of coming back? "Yeah, I did. I’m definitely going to miss it. Kentucky will always have a special place in my heart."— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) April 22, 2014
Randle also discussed the move on his Twitter account:
I would like to thank the entire Kentucky family for this year, but I have decided to take the next step and enter into the NBA draft.— Julius Randle (@J30_RANDLE) April 22, 2014
Randle was a force on the interior for the Wildcats in his first season. He averaged a double-double with 15 points and 10.4 rebounds per contest while shooting 50 percent from the floor. He also connected on more than 70 percent of his free-throw attempts, a solid rate for a natural post player.
His overall performance backed up the immense hype that followed him coming out of high school. He was a 5-star prospect, based on 247Sports' composite rankings, and the No. 2 prospect in the 2013 class behind Andrew Wiggins.
Given that ranking, he was an obvious one-and-done candidate when he arrived at Kentucky. His play throughout the season and the NCAA tournament, in which he led the Wildcats to the championship game, did nothing to change that outlook.
It came as little surprise when Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported multiple sources said Randle would make the jump to the NBA:
Kentucky freshman Julius Randle will leave school after one season in a move that was anticipated prior to the start of the year, multiple sources told ESPN. ...
... Numerous NBA sources reiterated that Randle is a lock as a top-10 pick and likely will be taken in the top five.
Randle quickly rubbished that and any other reports stating he had already made the decision to go pro. At the time, he said a discussion with his family was still to come:
Idk who reported what but I haven't made up my mind about the draft yet. Haven't even talked to my family about it. So it's all false.— Julius Randle (@J30_RANDLE) April 9, 2014
After further evaluation, he made his decision official:
What do you think of Randle's call?
Even though Randle added a little extra intrigue to the announcement by stating a decision hadn't been made after the initial reports, entering the draft was always the most likely outcome. He had very little, if anything, left to prove at the collegiate level.
The power forward sports an NBA-ready combination of size (6'9", 250 pounds), strength and offensive ability. His stock is also helped by the fact he made a seamless transition to the college game. He should be able to make a similar instant impact in the NBA.
As noted in Goodman's report, Randle should have no trouble going within the first 10 selections of the draft, with the top five being a definite possibility. Improvement on the defensive end would make him the complete package in the post.
In the end, the overall message remains the same: Randle has a very bright future.