Top high school recruit Julius Randle won't decide where he plays college ball until March 20, but where he needs to go is clear. It makes no sense for him to play anywhere except for the Kentucky Wildcats.
Let's take a look at the type of player that Randle is. The young man out of Dallas has solid size for a power forward at 6'9", 250 pounds, and he has drawn the interest of schools like Kentucky, Texas, Kansas, N.C. State and Florida, according to 247Sports.
According to ESPN.com (Insider only), Randle is a "pro in the making" but has work to do if he is to transition to small forward. The same report lists him as a decent scorer with a good jumper, but watching tape of him suggests that he relies a bit too much on his interior game.
That all being said, Kentucky is definitely the place for this youngster to develop his game. John Calipari has a knack for getting a lot out of freshmen, not to mention he does a good job of preparing his players for the NBA.
Moreover, Calipari is well known for his use of the dribble-drive offense. For those unaware, the system is similar to the Princeton offense in that there is only one post player, with the other four men on the court playing on the wing. Also, rather than rely on players driving the lane, the dribble-drive approach relies on screens.
Seeing as how his perimeter game and jump shot is exactly what Randle needs to improve before turning pro, Calipari's system is absolutely perfect for him. Though he can play the post well, his overall skill set is too good to just park him there and use him on defense. More importantly, he does not have the height for a conventional big man or center.
This means that in Calipari's offense, Randle is almost definitely going to be a wing player that will need a reliable jumper to help carry the team. He may be rusty at first, but Calipari is a good enough coach that, in time, his jumper could become one of the stronger parts of his game.
Were he to play at a school like Texas or Kansas, or even Florida, chances are his ceiling wouldn't be explored to its highest potential. Kansas would likely try to turn him into a stretch 4, a la Marcus Morris, and Texas might attempt to make him a defensive power forward in the same mold as Tristan Thompson. Neither would be a bad thing by any means, but would definitely keep his overall potential from being reached.
Thus, it's clear that Randle needs to head to Kentucky. Calipari's system is going to hone the part of his game that needs the most improvement, and the Wildcats' program is one in which he can undergo the most growth and transformation into a top-caliber NBA player.
March 20 is still some days away, but Randle should definitely consider signing a letter of intent to play at Kentucky if he hasn't done so already.
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