Now that the 2013-14 college basketball season has come to a close, it seems like the perfect time for all of the nation’s top young stars to decide whether or not they want to declare for the NBA draft. For Julius Randle, it’s a no-brainer as the Kentucky Wildcats‘ forward has declared for the draft — announcing his intentions at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
Not many people expected the big man to return for another season with the Wildcats, however, a strong NCAA Tournament run to the national title game might have made his decision a bit harder.
Losing in the national title game bears more relevance to an NBA draft decision than people give it credit for. If Kentucky were to lose in the first or second round of this year’s tourney, Randle would have likely declared without a second guess.
However, losing in the title game probably prolonged his decision a bit more than he had originally expected. Not to mention that many Kentucky fans were hoping he’d come back for another title run next season.
Declaring now couldn’t have been smarter for the big man. Why do I say this?
Just take a look at his numbers from this season. Averaging 15.0 points and 10.4 rebounds put him in line for a top-five draft selection and, in my opinion, he’s worthy of a No. 1 overall pick.
Yes, I said No. 1 overall. In my opinion, Randle has a chance to be one of the most successful players in this entire class because his body is NBA-ready and so is his style of play. He’s a strong post player who fights for every board and rarely takes a play off.
One player, in particular, reminds me of Randle. That player is Zach Randolph. As I watch Randle more and more throughout the year, Randolph came to mind. Sure, Randle still could stay and use one more year of learning the ropes, but Randolph left after an even less successful freshman season at Michigan State back in 2001 and he’s one of the best post players in the NBA.
Be on the lookout for the Zach Randolph 2.0 in the coming years.
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.