The Las Vegas Summer League gets underway Friday, and the main attraction will be an 8:30 p.m. ET matchup between No. 1 draft pick Karl-Anthony Towns' Minnesota Timberwolves and fellow former Kentucky star Julius Randle’s Los Angeles Lakers.
Randle will be playing in his first NBA-sanctioned game since fracturing his right tibia during his debut last season for the Lakers.
The team's website reported on Thursday that Randle, who has worked hard in the offseason to return from the injury, got an endorsement from former L.A. star Metta World Peace.
"If Metta says you're strong, you're pretty strong,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said, according to the report. "And Metta said, 'That kid is super strong.' So his body has definitely changed. That tells you how serious he is as far as basketball is concerned. ...
"Listening to the guys who have guarded him," Scott said, "some of the guys have said he's the strongest guy they've ever guarded."
Randle played for the Lakers' summer league team last year.
"It's a lot different," he said. "It's crazy what a year does. Confidence-wise: just knowing the ins and outs and knowing how to work the game, how to play, how to push yourself. It's amazing."
Minnesota's fans have already gotten a good look at Towns. He had 24 points and 15 rebounds in a public scrimmage Wednesday that drew more than 15,000 fans.
"I just wanted to play. This was my first exhibition game, scrimmage, whatever you want to call it since the Final Four," Towns said afterward, according to a report on the team’s website. "I'm glad I was hitting a lot of shots."
Kentucky's three other lottery picks — the Sacramento Kings' Willie Cauley-Stein, the Utah Jazz's Trey Lyles and the Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker will also be playing in Las Vegas.
Former UK standouts Darius Miller and Josh Harrellson, who have been playing outside the U.S., will try to get back into the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks and Suns, respectively.
Here is a quick guide to who is playing in Las Vegas:
When: Friday through July 20.
Teams: Hawks, Celtics, Nets, Bulls, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Warriors, Rockets, Lakers, Heat, Bucks, Timberwolves, Pelicans, Knicks, 76ers, Suns, Trail Blazers, Kings, Spurs, Raptors, Jazz, Wizards and D-League Select.
Ex-Cats: Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves. Willie Cauley-Stein and DeAndre Liggins, Kings. Trey Lyles, Jazz. Josh Harrellson, Archie Goodwin and Devin Booker, Suns. Darius Miller (Mason County), Mavericks. James Young, Celtics. Julius Randle, Lakers. Doron Lamb, Warriors. Keith Bogans and Daniel Orton, Trail Blazers.
Others with Kentucky ties: Louisville's Montrezl Harrell, Rockets. Hopkinsville's Scotty Hopson, D-League Select. Louisville native D'Angelo Russell, Lakers. Western Kentucky's T.J. Price, Bulls. Murray State's Ivan Aska, Timberwolves. Louisville's Terry Rozier and Eastern Kentucky's Corey Walden, Celtics. Louisville's Earl Clark and St. Catharine's Ben Vozzola, Nets. Louisville's Wayne Blackshear, Spurs.
Others to watch: Jahlil Okafor, 76ers. Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks. Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves. Marcus Smart, Celtics. Emmanuel Mudiay, Nuggets.