Look out, Jabari Parker, because Julius Randle is gunning for that No. 1 spot.
With John Calipari looking on, Randle put on a show in his Peach Jam opener Thursday morning. The 2013 recruit had 34 points and 16 rebounds to lead Team Texas Titans to an 81-72 victory over Playground Elite. Randle scored in a variety of ways, bulling his way to the basket, dunking in transition, and showing off some post moves against the overmatched Playground Elite defenders. He finished 12-for-21 from the floor and 10 of 13 from the free-throw line. Randle came into this week with an EYBL-best 185 free-throw attempts in 20 games.
But it wasn’t just his scoring that stood out. The 6-foot-9 power forward’s deft passing skills were on display from the point forward position. He had no match on the boards, grabbing seven offensive rebounds among his game-high 16. And though he wasn’t credited with any blocked shots or steals, he ran the floor to the point of exhaustion and got back on defense several times to negate transition opportunities.
“He is an animal, in a great way,” Texas Titans coach Scott Pospichal told USA Today. “They say Julius (is similar to) Chris Webber, but I don’t know that Chris Webber was so good with the ball and ferocious with the ball. He was a great player. If Julius has a career like Chris Webber, thank you Jesus. But I don’t know anyone out here who looks like him, plays like him, acts like him.”
Meanwhile, Parker didn’t make the trip to North Augusta due to a foot injury. His team clearly needed him. The Mac Irvin Fire fell 84-69 to Howard Pulley and Fire coach Mike Irvin was ejected from the game for arguing with officials.
Sonny Parker said earlier in the week that he wasn’t concerned about his son possibly losing his No. 1 ranking to Randle, who by most accounts has been gaining ground on Parker in the past few weeks. “That stuff doesn’t mean anything,” Sonny Parker told the Chicago Tribune. “There is no dinner or banquet for that. He has nothing to prove.”
Earlier this month, 24/7 Sports analyst Jerry Meyer became the first major analyst to place Randle above Parker in his rankings. If Randle turns in more performances like the one against Playground Elite, he won’t be the last.
Keeping up with Cal
Calipari split time between watching Randle and James Young during the final morning session. He spent the entire session before that at midcourt for Andrew Wiggins’ game against defending-champion BABC. In the early session, Calipari caught contests involving Aaron Gordon, Stanley Johnson, Tyus Jones and Jahlil Oakfor. Jones, the top-rated point guard in the class of 2014, told Cats Illustrated after his game that Calipari has offered him a scholarship.
Calipari and assistant coach Orlando Antigua spent Wednesday night at the NY2LA Sports Summer Jam in Milwaukee. They took in a showdown between 2014 targets Kevon Looney and Emmanuel Mudiay before catching 2013 recruits Andrew and Aaron Harrison.
Check out this page throughout the week for live video links and updated stats for all of the UK recruits in attendance.