Mentor: Randle can be a more versatile player at NBA level

While acknowledging the challenges associated with a move from college to the NBA, Julius Randle’s mentor said Tuesday that the now former Kentucky player can rely on a more versatile game to ease the advancement.

Jeff Webster, a 2,000-point scorer for Oklahoma in the 1990s, said Randle sacrificed his individual game to help the Kentucky team prosper this past season.

“He can’t just be the one guy out there doing everything,” Webster said. “They’d have never made the run (if Randle tried to dominate). So we know he can shoot the ball, can handle the ball.

“He’s not just a post guy, but that’s what the team needed. Now, he’ll get back to doing things because the NBA is more of a one-on-one game.”

Randle, who announced Tuesday that he will enter this year’s NBA Draft, smiled broadly when asked whether he anticipated pro teams guarding him with one defender. At UK, he faced double- and triple-teaming most games.

Webster, who has worked with Randle since the former UK player was a fifth-grader, said he will resume training Randle.

“He’ll be back under my tutelage, and I can see him every day,” Webster said. “Kentucky did an outstanding job. But we can kind of get back to some things that I know he needs to correct and fine-tune and get ready for the next step.”

The NBA Draft is June 26.

Randle announces he’s entering this year’s NBA Draft

With his mother in attendance, freshman star Julius Randle announced Tuesday that he will leave Kentucky and enter this year’s NBA Draft.

The decision was “about me personally,” Randle said at a news conference.

Randle led the nation with 24 double-doubles.

Various mock drafts projected him as a lottery pick even before he arrived at UK less than a year ago. He led Prestonwood Christian to the 2013 state championship, his third in four high school seasons.
Nothing during UK’s 2013-14 season lowered Randle’s NBA Draft profile. Despite being double- and triple-teamed almost every time he touched the ball near the basket, Randle averaged a double-double: 15.0 points and 10.4 rebounds. He ranked No. 9 nationally in rebounding.
Randle was named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year and first-team all-conference.
Of Randle as a NBA prospect, the website Bleacher Report said, “His ability to finish against length and ‘tweener’ status are concerns, but his offensive versatility and athleticism would be hard to pass up.”
Randle will join teammate James Young as players who started and ended their UK careers with the 2013-14 season.
Other UK players who have yet to announce whether they’ll enter this year’s NBA Draft or return to Kentucky next season include Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress.
The deadline for entering the NBA Draft is 11:59 p.m. EDT Sunday.

Young, who announced his decision to enter this year’s draft last week, became the 11th so-called one-and-done player for Kentucky since Calipari became coach in 2009. The others are John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, Brandon Knight, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Archie Goodwin and Nerlens Noel.

UK: Randle will announce stay/leave decision on Tuesday

Star freshman Julius Randle will announce Tuesday his decision to return to the University of Kentucky next season or enter this year’s NBA Draft, UK announced Monday.

Randle will announce his decision at a 1:30 p.m. EDT press conference Tuesday in Memorial Coliseum. The press conference will be live-streamed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f5JkPxw2Iw

It is widely expected that Randle will enter this year’s NBA Draft.  If he does, he will join teammate James Young as players who started and ended their UK careers with the 2013-14 season.

Other UK players who have yet to announce whether they’ll enter this year’s NBA Draft or return to UK next season include Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress.

The deadline for entering the NBA Draft is 11:59 p.m. EDT Sunday.

Young, who announced his decision to enter this year’s draft last week, became the 11th so-called one-and-done player for Kentucky since John Calipari became coach in 2009. The others are John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, Brandon Knight, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Archie Goodwin and Nerlens Noel.

The NBA Draft is June 26.

UK: Marcus Lee will return next season

Freshman Marcus Lee will return to the Kentucky basketball team next season, UK announced Friday.

“I’ve really enjoyed my college experience and I’m looking forward to continuing to develop as an all-around player,” Lee said in a statement. “Playing in the Final Four was such an amazing feeling, but I want to come back and help win that final game (next) year.”

Lee’s decision came as no surprise. During this past season, his brother dismissed speculation of a transfer by saying that Lee came to UK looking for long-term improvement. Relatively little playing time as a freshman was not an issue, he said.

Lee, one of six McDonald’s All-Americans in UK’s freshman class, had a moment in the sun against Michigan in the Midwest Region final. With teammate Willie Cauley-Stein sidelined because of an ankle injury, Lee scored 10 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots.

“I’m excited for Marcus and think he’s barely scratched the surface of what he’s capable of,” Coach John Calipari said in a statement.  “In addition to his athleticism and the energy level he brings, the experience he gained in the NCAA Tournament this year will be immeasurable for us next season.”

Lee became the third UK player to announce a decision about his basketball future. Earlier in the week, James Young said he would enter this year’s NBA Draft, and Cauley-Stein said he would return to UK.

UK: James Young to enter this year’s NBA Draft

Kentucky guard James Young, who made the Southeastern Conference all-freshman team this past season, will enter this year’s NBA Draft, UK announced Thursday.

“My time at Kentucky has been special to me, something I’ll always treasure, but I feel that I’m ready to take the next step to the NBA,” Young said in a statement. “I’ve learned more this year, on and off the court, about life from Coach Cal (John Calipari) and the staff and appreciate all of their guidance and support. I can’t say enough about my teammates; the journey helped us build a bond that we will always share for the rest of our lives.  I would like to thank the best fans in the country, the Big Blue Nation, and I hope you guys will continue to support me as I move on. I will always bleed blue. Succeed and Proceed!”

The final three words in the statement are the new label for so-called one-and-done players that Calipari proposed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. He said the label one-and-done had a negative connotation.

Young, a native of Rochester Hills, Mich., led UK with  82 three-point baskets. That was the seventh most in a single season in program history and second most by a UK freshman. He shot 42.6 percent from three-point range in the NCAA Tournament.

Young averaged 18.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in the Final Four en route to Final Four All-Tournament Team honors.

“I’m excited for James and his family and the decision he’s come to,” Calipari said in a statement. “From day one, the NBA people who came to our practices in the pre-season raved about him. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him all season, investing himself in his brothers for the betterment of the team, and I think we all saw the end result in the tournament and Final Four. Whatever team drafts James is not only getting a superb athlete, they are getting the ultimate teammate.”

Young was named to  the All-SEC Second-Team. He scored 10 or more points in 30 games.

Earlier this week, UK announced that Willie Cauley-Stein will return to the UK team next season.

The NBA Draft is scheduled for June 26.

Cal: No answers yet on which players will stay or leave

Kentucky Coach John Calipari suggested Thursday that everyone will have to wait to know which players will enter this year’s NBA Draft and which will return to UK next season.

In meeting with reporters, Calipari said he broached the subject in Arlington, Texas, site of the Final Four, to eight players.

A couple players said they did need to talk to the coach about the subject, which implied that those players had decided to return. “A majority” wanted to go through the process of gauging their NBA profile and consider entering the draft, Calipari said.

The UK coach said he spoke to about 19 NBA general managers. Among the things he learned was that one of the players who was not interested in the draft could be a first-round pick, and perhaps a lottery pick.

Calipari said he had a follow-up meeting with the player and his mother.

“I just told him, ‘I need you to know what you’re passing up by coming back,’” Calipari said. ”What I told him and his mother, I’ve got to live with myself. I told him, I want you to come back. I think  you need to come back. But you need to know what’s out there.”

As he said on several TV and radio appearances this week promoting his new book, Players First; Coaching from the Inside Out, Calipari said the decisions had to be personal decisions and not based on a perceived effect on UK or the basketball program.

Calipari asked reporters to raise their hands if they were surprised that Willie Cauley-Stein decided to return to UK next season.

In explaining his reasons for returning, Cauley-Stein said he was in no hurry to leave, liked going to school, would get closer to a degree, needed to grow as a player and wanted to try to complete a run to a national championship, Calipari said.

“That’s a good answer for me,” Calipari said.

Cauley-Stein has undergone ankle surgery and will need about two months of rehabilitation.

“Best doctor in the world to do it,” Calipari said. “A procedure that is done a lot. So he’ll be fine.”

Cal plans in-state book tour beginning Thursday

UK announced Tuesday that Kentucky Coach John Calipari plans an in-state tour to promote his new book, Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out.

The tour begins Thursday in Lexington.

Here are the dates, times and sites:

Date Area Store Address Start time
April 17 Lexington Joseph-Beth Booksellers 161 Lexington Green Circle, Lexington, KY 40503 6 p.m.
April 18 Louisville Barnes & Noble 4100 Summit Plaza Dr., Louisville, KY 40241 6 p.m.
April 19 Nicholasville Sam’s Club 103 Bryant Dr., Nicholasville, KY 40356 2 p.m.
April 21 Cincinnati Joseph-Beth Booksellers 2785 Dixie Hwy., Crestview, KY 41017 6 p.m.
April 22 Bowling Green Barnes & Noble 1680 Campbell Ln., Bowling Green, KY 42104 6 p.m. CT
*April 24 Louisville Carmichael’s Bookstore 2117 Payne St., Louisville, KY 40206 7 p.m.
April 29 Lexington Barnes & Noble 1932 Pavilion Way, Lexington, KY 40509 6 p.m.

UK: Cauley-Stein to return for junior season

Willie Cauley-Stein will return to the Kentucky team next season, UK announced Monday.
“I want to come back and have a chance to win a national championship, while also getting closer to earning my degree,” Cauley-Stein said in a news release. “Being at the Final Four this year was special, but not being able to help my teammates on the floor was tough. I look forward to helping us get back there next year, while playing in front of the best fans in the nation.”
Cauley-Stein was named to the All-Southeastern Conference Defensive Team this season. With four blocks against Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament, Cauley-Stein moved into a tie for second place in the single-season standings for blocks with 106. Only Anthony Davis (186) had more in a single year. That total also ranked in the top 10 nationally for the year.

Cauley-Stein’s season ended abruptly when he injured an ankle against Louisville in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

“I’m happy for Willie and also proud of him for making the best decision for him and his family,” Coach John Calipari said in a news release. “Being in school for at least three years will get him closer to having a degree and will help him prepare for the next level and life afterwards.”

The 7-foot sophomore has totaled 166 blocks in his career, which ranks sixth all-time in program history.

Cal: Eight UK players could turn pro, but not all of them will

Kentucky Coach John Calipari said Monday that as many as eight UK players could enter this year’s NBA Draft.

“The good news is there are eight that could be going,” he said on Dan Patrick’s radio show. “I know eight are not going.”

Calipari suggested that he had no big influence on the stay-or-leave decision players must make.

“We had great conversations,” he said. “They all have the information. I’m not going to meet with them nine times.”

Calipari said he doesn’t try to persuade a player to stay by pointing out how he can improve a player’s game. Nor does he suggest that he will move a player to a different position the next season to give NBA people a look at the player at his pro position.

“This is, ‘Tell me what you want to do so I can help you,’” Calipari said.

Cal: Changing one-and-done rule key in coaching future

During an appearance Monday on Dan Patrick’s radio show, Kentucky Coach John Calipari talked about his coaching future.

Calipari seemed to rule out a move to the Los Angeles Lakers next season. After dismissing Rex Chapman’s tweet that the move was a “done deal,” Calipari was asked if he wanted the Lakers’ job.

“No, I’m good,” he said.

Changing the so-called one-and-done rule to a mandatory two-year stay in college for players could affect his tenure at UK, Calipari said. When Patrick asked whether he could continue as Kentucky coach for three to five years with a one-and-done rule, Calipari said:

“It’ll be hard because the option is to recruit players who are not good players or convince kids who should leave that they should stay.”

Calipari said he was “not comfortable” with trying to persuade standout players to stay in college.

As for recruiting less-talented players, Calipari said, “The fans, the Big Blue Nation in Kentucky, wouldn’t be comfortable.”