Julius Randle might play in the McDonald’s All-American Game after all.
The UK recruit, who suffered a broken foot during the second game of the season and has been sidelined since, was surprisingly on the list of McDonald’s nominees released Thursday.
In the past, the game’s organizers have had a stipulation that a player must play in 50 percent of his team’s games to qualify for the McDonald’s event. That language is no longer on the game’s website.
An email to the Herald-Leader on Thursday attributed to the McDonald’s Selection Committee said a player could be named to the game even if he played in less than 50 percent of his team’s games.
“The percentage of games played is a guideline during the selection process, but not a rule,” the email read. “The most important aspect is that the player is playing during the selection process (i.e. not injured). And if they are injured, that they are scheduled to return to finish the season.
“The Selection Committee and Chairman Morgan Wootten do evaluate each player and situation on an individual basis.”
A McDonald’s All-American Game spokesman later confirmed to the Herald-Leader that Randle will be considered if he’s expected to be healthy by April 3, which is when the game will be played.
Carolyn Kyles, Randle’s mother, told the Herald-Leader on Thursday that Randle’s recovery is going better than expected. At the time of the injury, he was scheduled to return to the court sometime in late February or early March.
Kyles said she was thankful to the McDonald’s All-American organization that Randle will still have a chance to play.
“It’s an honor for Julius to still be considered,” she said. “As of last week, Julius is out of the boot and will start rehab next week. His doctor said he looks great and ahead of schedule. We’re taking it one day at a time.”
Randle — considered to be one of the two or three best players in the country — has narrowed his list of schools to UK, Texas, Florida, Kansas, N.C. State and Oklahoma. He is not expected to make a decision until after the season.
Last month, Randle wrote in his USA Today diary about how much it would mean to play in the McDonald’s Game.
“One other thing that I’ve really been thinking about is the McDonald’s All-American game,” Randle wrote. “I know I’ll be OK basketball-wise, but the one thing that this injury has done is get me worried about my chances to fulfill my dream of playing in this game.
“It’s been a lifelong dream of mine, and to think that something that was completely out of my control could stop me from playing really bothers me. I’ll definitely be back to 100 percent well before the McDonald’s game so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to play. I had heard that you have to play in a certain amount of games during the season to be eligible, and I’m working hard to get back as soon as I possibly can.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to play in the game. I have heard that the rule was put in place for guys who move around to different schools, and that’s not me. I’m just hoping that the committee will be able to see what I’ve done to this point and feel like it’s enough to get me in, especially since it was a freak accident that has me sidelined and I’ll be back and ready way before the game.”
The final rosters for the McDonald’s Game will be announced Feb. 14.