UK Men's Basketball

Lights! Camera! On-court action! Ex-Cat Randle returns to show how basketball can change lives

Julius Randle joked with kids at a basketball camp he hosted at Kentucky Basketball Academy in Lexington in 2015.
Julius Randle joked with kids at a basketball camp he hosted at Kentucky Basketball Academy in Lexington in 2015. Herald-Leader

A proposed television show about how basketball can change people’s lives gets its start in Lexington on Sunday with a former University of Kentucky player as its first guest star.

Julius Randle is in Lexington this weekend for filming of a pilot episode of a show with the working title of “Street Ball Stories.”

As part of the show, Randle helped finance the building of a new court at the Charles Young Center. The idea for the proposed series is to show NBA standouts reconnecting with their basketball roots. The then-and-now serves as a reminder of how the sport changed their lives for the better.

Organizers invited the public to come to the dedication of the court late afternoon Sunday. Randle will attend and try out the court, which is a few blocks from Thoroughbred Park on Midland Avenue.

“I’m not sure he’s necessarily going to play,” said Brett Claywell, the executive producer of the pilot. “It’s his court. He has to put the first basket through the hoop, that’s for sure.”

Randle contributed to the construction of the $65,000 court project. So did Mountain Dew, one of the sponsors of the proposed TV series.

A Louisville-based company, Aztec Flooring, laid an asphalt base and installed the polyethylene court.

A Lexington artist, Dani Greene, worked on a design for center court on Friday. It was a city skyline spouting out from the center circle. The buildings will be black with white windows, she said. The center circle will be a solid green.

Green? Not blue? Mountain Dew wanted its signature color in the design, Greene said.

Why Randle? He has a promotional deal with Mountain Dew, Claywell said Friday.

“Even though he was in Lexington only one year, he feels like this is home,” Claywell said of Randle. “I think that says something very strong about Lexington as a whole. That it has that impact on the young men who come here specifically and only for basketball. They leave here feeling like it’s home.”

Claywell, a high school teammate of former North Carolina standout Brendan Haywood, said his father’s good fortune with basketball inspired the idea for the proposed TV series.

His father, Doyle Claywell, grew up in house without electricity nor plumbing, his son said. He became the first person in his family to attend college when he got a scholarship to play for Lincoln Memorial University.

“So basketball has created a way of life for my family,” Claywell said. “And I wouldn’t have the life I do and the opportunities I’ve had without him escaping the situation he was in and creating a better life for us through basketball.

“I think that story is prevalent throughout the country.”

Jerry Tipton: 859-231-3227, @JerryTipton