After beating the Texas A&M Aggies 68-51 on Tuesday night to win their sixth game out of seven, it’s official that the Kentucky Wildcats are getting accustomed to their roles as a team. And Julius Randle will be the anchor that makes this team run. The 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward is the guy that made the big rebound or bucket when the Wildcats needed it against the Aggies, and he will ultimately be rewarded with The Naismith Trophy as college basketball‘s best player.
In the latest victory Randle contributed 13 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, one steal and two blocks. While those numbers don’t jump off the board, they are surely made more impressive when one considers he is really giving up some individual opportunities to help Kentucky win games. Randle may not score 30 points a game at any point in the season, but he understands that there are four other supremely talented players on the court around him at all times. Winning basketball games will turn more heads than putting up impeccable numbers. After watching the Wildcats reel off six wins in their last seven games, it is clear he is succeeding on the team front and turning heads in the process.
Even after giving up some individual ball time, Randle has season averages of 29.2 minutes per game, a 54.1 field goal percentage, 72.0 free-throw percentage, 16.9 points per game, 10.5 rebounds per game and 1.6 assists per game, in turn showing his all-around play does translate into offensive output. When you throw in eleven games with a double-double, it is hard to find someone that puts up the numbers the forward does against the teams he plays.
Additionally, when one adds in the so-called eye test, there is no doubting that Randle should win the Naismith Award before the likes of Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Doug McDermott and Andrew Wiggins. Randle is simply too dominant on each end of the floor both physically and mentally as well as selfless amongst teammates to be passed up as an all-around player by any of these guys.
Big, physical, talented and smart, it is clear that Randle will not be slowed down by the much reported second half slumps of many freshman in college basketball. In fact, it would appear that he will only be growing stronger as the competition begins to be worn out. He will ultimately end up winning The Naismith Trophy as the college basketball player of the year before moving on to become the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.