UK basketball: Julius Randle ready to reveal his next step

jtipton@herald-leader.comApril 21, 2014 

Star freshman Julius Randle will announce Tuesday his decision to return to the University of Kentucky next season or enter this year's NBA Draft. A decision to return to Kentucky next season would be more surprising than Randle being ignored by an opposing defense this past season.

Randle, who led the nation with 24 double-doubles, will announce his decision at a 1:30 p.m. press conference Tuesday in Memorial Coliseum, UK said.

It is widely assumed that Randle will enter this year's NBA Draft. Various mock drafts projected him as a lottery pick even before he arrived at UK less than a year ago. He led Prestonwood Christian to the 2013 state championship, his third in four high school seasons.

Nothing during UK's 2013-14 season lowered Randle's NBA Draft profile. Despite being double- and triple-teamed almost every time he touched the ball near the basket, Randle averaged a double-double: 15.0 points and 10.4 rebounds. He ranked No. 9 nationally in rebounding.

Randle was named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year and first-team all league.

Of Randle as a NBA prospect, the website Bleacher Report said, "His ability to finish against length and 'tweener' status are concerns, but his offensive versatility and athleticism would be hard to pass up."

If Randle announces his entry into this year's NBA Draft, he will join teammate James Young as players who started and ended their UK careers with the 2013-14 season.

Other UK players who have yet to announce whether they'll enter this year's NBA Draft or return to Kentucky next season include Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress.

The deadline for entering the NBA Draft is 11:59 p.m. EDT Sunday.

Calipari told ESPN.com that he would meet with Johnson and Poythress Monday afternoon and with the Harrison twins on Tuesday to discuss the players' basketball futures.

Young, who announced his decision to enter this year's draft last week, became the 11th so-called one-and-done player for Kentucky since Calipari became coach in 2009. The others are John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, Brandon Knight, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Archie Goodwin and Nerlens Noel.

Repeatedly this month, Calipari has explained his role in the players' stay-or-leave decision. He supplies intel on draft status and NBA evaluation, then steps away as the player and his family decide.

"Whatever decision you make, I'll fight for you," Calipari said last week.

The NBA Draft is June 26.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Email: jtipton@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @JerryTipton.Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com

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