Kentucky Wildcats freshman Julius Randle has gone as far as he can go in college basketball both on the court and mentally. On Tuesday, the 6-foot-9 forward officially announced that he will not commit to another year at Kentucky and will be entering the 2014 NBA Draft. According to a report by CBS Sports on April 22, Randle feels he has the maturity he needs to make the jump to the next level.
Randle is one of two players from Kentucky who will not be returning next year. James Young announced he was leaving and the team is still waiting on formal decision from Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress. Julius Randle thanked fans via his Twitter account. He wrote, “I would like to thank the entire Kentucky family for this year, but I have decided to take the next step and enter into the NBA draft.”
NBA teams salivated over Randle in the NCAA tournament. His physicality and drive was on full display as he played a major role in Kentucky’s surprising run to the NCAA title game. More impressively, the power forward recorded 24 double-doubles in his freshman year and overall averaged 15 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 30.8 minutes per game for the Wildcats. His performance was good enough to earn him All-SEC and SEC Rookie of the Year honors.
Randle’s declaration for the NBA isn’t surprising. A projected lottery pick, Randle is expected to earn somewhere between $6.1 million and $7.5 million. He feels that he has grown and matured under head coach John Calipari at Kentucky and would be a good fit for most of the teams selecting in the lottery. Chris Mannix of “Sports Illustrated” has Randle going to the Boston Celtics at No. 5 in his latest mock draft.