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Julius Randle photo courtesy ESPN.com

Julius Randle photo courtesy ESPN.com

By LARRY VAUGHT

He surprised many when he decided to commit to Kentucky and become part of possibly the nation’s all-time best recruiting class, but Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian coach Chris Mayberry knew competition would not intimidate Julius Randle.

“He could have gone anywhere and been successful,” said Mayberry of the 6-9 power forward. “I think Kentucky had the tradition and comfort level with the staff that he felt was best for him. I think it will be a great place for him to continue to prove himself.

“Based on everything I have seen from him, he thrives in really big-time situations. My first year we played in the City of Palms Classic (in Fort Myers, Fla.) and it was a new situation to him and I just watched him take over. It was impressive. Any time we played a team that had a guy scoring a lot, he would say, ‘Coach, I got him,’ and would take care of it. Whatever we needed, he did.

“That’s why I know it will not be intimidating for him to play with great players. He knows who he is and how hard work will help his team win. He wants a chance to win a national title and knows Kentucky is a place to do that.”

Randle verbally committed to UK last week and will join a recruiting class of Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young, Marcus Lee, Dakari Johnson and Derek Willis when he signs with the Cats next month.

Last August 2012 Randle won the Under Armour Elite 24 dunk Contest and the next day he was named one of the most valuable players of the Elite 24 game where he scored 27 points and led his team to a 164-138 victory. However, he fractured his foot in late November, missed three months and returned just in time to lead his team to a state title.

He’ll play in the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic in the weeks ahead and is ranked as the nation’s top power forward prospect and one of the nation’s top three high school recruits by most recruiting services.

“He’s all about winning. In one of our playoff games, he was double teamed in the open court and triple teamed in halfcourt,” Mayberry said. “He took four shots in the game. He didn’t force anything. He knew if he forced things he would take tough shots or turn the ball over. He decided to be a great teammate. Some guys missed easy shots, but he kept passing. He’s always willing to do what it takes to be on the right side of the scoreboard.”

Mayberry said it was not easy for Randle to tell coaches at Duke, North Carolina and Kansas that he was going to Kentucky.

“He is straight up and tried to be as good as he could with those guys,” Mayberry said. “But he is also excited it is all over. The biggest thing for him about Kentucky, based on what he told me, was the visit. He felt a comfort level with everybody associated with the program from the academic people to the strength coach to the chaplain. He felt great about all of them.”

Mayberry said Randle and those around him are being careful not to get caught up in the “speculation” about UK’s recruiting class being the best ever.

“They have got to go out and show they can be the best,” Mayberry said. “I am excited for him and know what he can do. He will take his game to a whole different level. I saw him get so much better and this year when he couldn’t play he still pushed himself to work so hard that he came back quicker than anyone thought.”

Mayberry says Randle’s personality will endear him to UK fans and keep the Kentucky spotlight from overwhelming him.

“He had great relationships with everybody at school here. Talk to anybody, including the headmaster, and they cannot stop talking about how great a kid he is. I knew the hype and hoopla did not change him. He has great character, a great mom. He’s very well grounded. As long as he stays healthy, he has a really high ceiling.”

Mayberry knows Randle will have adjustments to make at Kentucky off the court.

“He’s a very religious kid. He has kind of been in a bit of a Christian atmosphere here, but there is going to be a big difference between here and Kentucky,” Mayberry said. “I am not dumb. I know what goes on in college. I am excited, though, for him to make an impact on others and pray God will protect him and let him make the positive impact on others he meets and sees at Kentucky because he’s going to have the opportunity to influence a lot of people.”

7 Responses to Coach: Talent will not intimidate UK commit Julius Randle because he values winning more than anything else

  • What a great group of recruits !

  • Karen Sprinkle says:

    Oh, I already love this kid. He sounds like he might be a defensive stopper that we were lacking on the perimeter in this year’s team. And I love the attitude that this great recruiting class has to prove it on the court. That attitude seemed a bit lacking in this year’s team.

  • Larry Pup says:

    Great basketball recruit for Big Blue. I am more impressed with his character. My prayers are with him as he starts his college career. UK is very fortunate to get a young man like this.

  • TonyJ says:

    I can’t wait for him to suit up! He is already my favorite player!

  • Jerry Vaughan says:

    He can be the glue that holds it all together, as he is interested in winning. He is also interested in his witness, evidently. His career (even a OAD one) should be rather different than any other very high profile “All’American” BBN has ever seen, simply because when the Christian fanbase of BBN starts praying for him, he will be blessed in more ways than he could have ever thought.

  • Buddy says:

    The most important thing for a sports recruit or any other student is to develop good people skills and the ability to contribute constructively to the society in which they live—–sounds like this young man has a good base.

  • King Ghidora says:

    He could be the best Wildcat ever. His videos are spectacular. I’d really love to see him team up with Wiggins and the Harrison twins and the rest of this unbelievable class. Calipari has earned every nickel of his paycheck by bringing in talent on this level. I don’t care if they did fall on their faces this year. Cal is the best thing to happen to UK since Rupp. As good as some UK coaches have been since the Baron I think Cal is head and shoulders above them. Pitino certainly made his impact and Joe B. was a fabulous coach. But Cal has that extra element that makes him really special. I think it’s the way he really cares about the kids but I’m not really in a position to know. I know what I see though and I see that he wants what’s best for the kids regardless of what the fans want. Some say he gets paid to put UK first. I think the best way to do that is to do what coaches are supposed to do and help players be all they can be and make them better human beings. That’s the whole reason for sports the way I was taught. And Cal does that. And his players know it and the recruits know it. A lot of coaches think nothing of asking a kid to stay and play for their school and they have all sorts of reasons why getting an education is more important than just getting money. Players have to instantly know that coach is thinking of himself instead of his players when they start preaching about staying in school when they could be multi-millionaires instead. You can hire 10 tutors to follow you around and teach you what you want to learn with that kind of money. Doing what’s right for the kids usually means letting them go while they can rake in the cash. They can always come back to school later when their legs are old. Their minds will still be working for a long time after their legs go. I really think that’s why Cal can bring in the players like he does. He doesn’t blow smoke about staying in school when the main person that helps is the coach.

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