Kentucky forward Julius Randle is headed to the NBA. The freshman big man officially announced his intentions to leave school early and pursue a professional basketball career in a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
I would like to thank the entire Kentucky family for this year, but I have decided to take the next step and enter into the NBA draft.
— Julius Randle (@J30_RANDLE) April 22, 2014
Randle, who was a top five recruit in 2013, averaged 15.4 points and 10.4 rebounds a game this past season, helping Kentucky reach the national championship game before the Wildcats fell to Connecticut. Randle is the second Kentucky player to declare for the NBA this season. Freshman shooting guard James Young said last week he would enter the June 26 draft.
“It’s where I’ve always wanted to be,” Randle said Tuesday.
Decisions now remain for three more Wildcat freshmen–twin guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison along with center Dakari Johnson–and sophomore forward Alex Poythress. Sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein and freshman big man Marcus Lee both have stated they will be returning to Lexington, Ky. for at least one more season.
Randle said that while he has spoken to some of his teammates yet to make a decision, he hasn’t given them any advice.
“If I’m talking to anybody, it’s just to see how they’re doing. Just normal teenage things,” Randle said. “I can’t speak on (their decisions).”
Randle is projected to be a top-five pick.