Though the decision to enter NBA Draft 2014 took weeks longer than most people had expected, Kentucky forward Julius Randle announced he would turn pro on Tuesday, April 22. That decision should make the Utah Jazz--and other NBA teams--happy, since Randle is projected to be a top five lottery pick.
At 6-foot-9-inches tall and 250 pounds, Randle is a load inside for being just 18 years of age. The native of Dallas, Texas was considered by many to be the best among Kentucky’s stellar freshman class this past season--a class loaded with McDonald’s All-Americans--and Randle certainly didn’t disappoint anyone.
He averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds for the national runners-up who lost to Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament championship game after an improbable run through March Madness as an eight seed. Randle was also named an Associated Press Second-Team All-American for his efforts as a Kentucky freshman.
Nobody is certain why Randle took so long to declare for the draft--he certainly didn’t write an essay and publish it on Sports Illustrated like his compatriot Jabari Parker--but he waited until five days before the deadline to do so.
Flanked alongside teammates Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein--the latter already declaring his intention to stay at Kentucky--and his mother, Carolyn Kyles, Randle finally mustered up the courage to say what everyone had anticipated following such a successful freshman season.
"Kentucky will always have a special place in my heart, but growing up as a kid, there's always been my dream to play in the NBA, and there's no better opportunity for me to achieve that than now," Randle said at a news conference in Lexington, Kentucky.
Randle has been mentioned on several mock drafts as a possible Utah Jazz selection at the 2014 NBA Draft at their current No. 4 spot--which could fluctuate depending on how the ping-pong balls fall for Utah at the draft lottery.
Randle joins freshman sharpshooter and defensive specialist James Young as two Kentucky Wildcats who are potential lottery picks -- and Young has been linked to the Jazz in several mocks with the team's No. 23 first round pick.