The three-day Julius Randle Camp began Monday morning with an obviously unrehearsed session organizers called "Ask Julius." Boys and girls ranging in age from 5 to 14 took turns asking the former Kentucky star questions.
Question No. 1: Are you best friends with Kobe Bryant?
That one knocked Randle on his heels.
"Am I best friends with Kobe Bryant?" he said, repeating the question as if stalling for time as he searched for a diplomatic response. After noting the age difference (Bryant turns 37 on Aug. 23; Randle is 20), he said of Bryant, "He's like a big brother."
Then Makhi Smith, 9, asked, "Have you ever dunked on somebody?"
After a pause, Randle simply said with a trace of bewilderment in his voice, "Yeah."
Smith, who will be a fourth-grader at Booker T. Washington Intermediate Academy next school year, later explained the question. He recalled watching Randle play for UK in the 2013-14 season. "He used to always drive in and (his voice betraying disappointment) lay up."
Randle's camp, which is being held at the Kentucky Basketball Academy, featured precocious kids intent on having fun and asking questions with full-of-beans enthusiasm. At one point, a boy maybe 5 or 6 years old ran up to Randle, touched him with both hands and then skipped merrily back to his group. Then the boy bounced back and forth from one foot to the other.
Randle, who will restart his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers next season, smiled.
The Bloyd family gave the camp a winner before the first basketball was bounced. Paxton Bloyd, 6, is a cancer survivor.
When he was 5, Bloyd was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma Stage 4. He underwent eight months of chemotherapy.
"We consider him cured," father Cheslee Bloyd said as he watched his son participate in the camp.
Mother Jamie Bloyd led an effort that resulted in legislation that enables Kentuckians to help in the fight against childhood cancer. Senate Bill 82, sponsored by State Sen. Max Wise, allows Kentuckians to check a box on their state income tax that designates a donation to pediatric cancer research.
Meanwhile, the Bloyd family attended the Randle camp in full force. Besides Paxton and his parents, younger sister Ansley, 4, watched from the sidelines. Also present was Taylor Bloyd, a baby girl born Friday at Central Baptist Hospital.
Before he took the court for the introductory "Ask Julius" session, Randle held the three-day-old baby in his arms and posed for pictures. Taylor, who arrived at 8 pounds and 201/2 inches long, slept through the whole thing.
After the morning session, Randle sat down for an interview. A reporter asked about the upcoming NBA Draft and Randle's health while kids injected much more entertaining questions.
Randle, who pronounced himself fully recovered from a broken leg sustained in last season's opening game, sidestepped a question about whether the Lakers should draft another UK star, Karl-Anthony Towns, or Duke's Jahlil Okafor on June 25. The Lakers have the second pick of the first round.
"Just anybody who they feel has the winning personality to bring the Lakers back to what they need to be ... ," he said. "That winning attitude."
When asked if he would mesh better with a low-post anchor like Okafor than a similarly versatile forward like Towns, Randle said, "It just depends. I'm a very versatile player. My game can adjust and fit with a lot of people."
About then, a boy about 8 years old walked up and asked Randle what NBA team he hated the most.
"Uh, I don't know," Randle said. "Maybe the Celtics. I'm a Laker fan."
To which, the boy said, "I hate the Celtics without (Rajon) Rondo."
Randle expressed confidence that the seven former UK players in this year's NBA Draft will do well as pro players.
"Those guys will do just fine," he said. "Coming from Kentucky, it prepares you in any way."
Just then, another boy arrived with a loaded question that would make any hard-boiled reporter proud.
"How much better is Willie Cauley-Stein than you?" the boy asked.
"Than me?" Randle said.
Before Randle could come up with a response, the boy answered his own question. "I don't think at all," he said.