Former University of Kentucky basketball player and now Los Angeles Lakers star Julius Randle is back in Lexington this weekend for his Julius Randle Skills Camp, but something about him is different than the last time he hosted a camp at UK.
Randle, who is set to begin his fourth season with the Lakers, became a father when his fiancée gave birth to their son in December 2016.
Randle has always taken youth camps seriously, but the addition of Kyden Randle to his family, makes them mean a little bit extra.
“As a parent, you kind of cherish that relationship that I have with my son. I really cherish it everyday, getting to see his face and spend time with him, making sure dad is there,” Randle said. “I really do enjoy these moments giving back to kids, for sure.”
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Randle’s skills camp was divided into two sections, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, both taking place on Saturday in Memorial Coliseum. This was Randle’s second time hosting a camp since a three-day camp in 2015.
Whether taking part in camps, visiting former coaches and teammates, or simply grabbing a bite to eat at a favorite restaurant, former Kentucky players often come back to Lexington when given the chance, and Randle certainly takes advantage of his open calendar in the offseason.
“I committed to a family, me and Coach (John Calipari) still have a great relationship to this day, whenever I can come back, I love to,” Randle said.
He said being able to come back and host a youth camp makes the trip back to Kentucky even sweeter.
“Being able to talk to these kids and put a smile on their face, block their shot or whatever it may be,” Randle said. “Just having fun and interacting with this community obviously, and the parents as well who have given so much to me you know my year that I was here.”
As for Randle’s life outside of Kentucky, Randle is in a good spot with his young Lakers team that’s on the rise after drafting former UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball.
This isn’t Randle’s first time playing on a young team, as his UK squad his lone year featured nine freshmen including himself. Randle said his experiences at Kentucky will help him on the young Lakers team.
“It’s (time at UK) been an experience that’s allowed me to keep perspective of our team, now,” Randle said. “We’re growing every year, everybody’s getting better so it’s only a matter of time.”
Randle will also get the opportunity to play with Ball for the first time this upcoming fall, and like most Lakers fans, he’s excited.
“He makes everybody better, he’s a great player, he obviously can score, he makes the game a lot easier for everybody,” Randle said.
While he has a good home and future in L.A., he never forgets his time spent in Lexington and always tries to come back when he can. Another opportunity could be on Aug. 25 for the UK Alumni Game.
Randle said he was unsure if he would attend, but he did offer his prediction on a rumored UK super team versus NBA all-stars showdown.
“I definitely think we would win, I don’t think it would really be a challenge,” Randle said. “I think Kentucky’s just got too many stars.”
Chris Leach: 859-231-1326, @chrisleach250
Other ex-Cats hosting youth camps this summer
Karl-Anthony Towns: July 23
Tyler Ulis: July 30