Less than 24 hours from Julius Randle’s long-awaited college announcement, there’s still some debate over where the highly touted Texas forward will end up.
One thing seems to be clear: The stretch run of Randle’s recruitment is a two-team race.
“I certainly think that Kentucky and Kansas are the two schools,” Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “I would be stunned if he didn’t go to one of those two schools.”
The finalists are UK, Kansas, Texas and Florida. Randle will eliminate all doubt at 1:15 p.m. ET Wednesday in a televised announcement on ESPNU.
At Kentucky, Randle would join what is already ranked as the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. The group consists of twin guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison, wing James Young, small forward Derek Willis and big men Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson. All of those players other than Willis are considered Top 25 overall prospects by Scout.com.
UK is recruiting No. 1 player Andrew Wiggins, but Daniels said Randle — who is ranked No. 5 — might be a better fit for the Cats.
“Although I think Andrew Wiggins is a better player than Julius Randle, I think a player like Julius Randle is what Kentucky’s class is missing,” he said. “If you look at the Kentucky class, it’s hard to say they’re missing anything. But they don’t have a big-time scoring four-man in this class, and I think he would fit with everything they’re bringing in quite nicely.”
Daniels doesn’t read much into Randle’s decision to announce his college choice before knowing the NBA plans of the players currently at UK and Kansas.
Freshman guard Ben McLemore is the only Jayhawk considered likely to go pro early. UK has several players who could jump to the NBA, but Randle probably has a good idea what that group will do.
“I’m sure that Kentucky has probably relayed to them who they think is going pro,” Daniels said. “But it doesn’t really matter, because he’s going to play no matter what.”
If he’s playing in Lexington, it’ll be alongside the Harrison twins, whom he competed against while growing up in Texas.
Much has been written about the relationship between Randle and the Harrisons. A narrative emerged months ago that Randle didn’t get along with the twins and wouldn’t want to play with them in college. But all three players have denied that, and Randle said earlier this season that if he could play with any other prospect in the 2013 class, it would be Andrew Harrison.
Daniels said he already thinks Kentucky will have the best backcourt in college basketball next season. Randle would add another layer of superlatives.
“If they were to get Julius Randle, they might have the best inside-outside presence as well,” Daniels said. “Julius Randle is that good. He’s a guy that can come in to a college program and really make a major difference.”
We’re still not sure which current Wildcats will return for another run next season. And we still don’t know where Wiggins and fellow UK target Aaron Gordon will end up.
Daniels says — even with all of that up in the air — the UK-is-No. 1-talk will be legit if Randle puts on a blue and white hat Wednesday.
“If Kentucky gets Julius Randle, I think you have to consider them the favorite to win the national title.”