With the NCAA tournament set to kick off tomorrow it helps to have a distraction to help pass the time. Fortunately there is a pretty big one scheduled today and that is the announcement by Julius Randle of his college choice. Randle is a 6'9" power forward out of Plano Texas and he is the number two recruit in the nation behind Andrew Wiggins. Randle has visited Kansas, Kentucky, Texas and Florida, but most believe the decision will come down to Kansas or Kentucky this afternoon.
At 12:15 PM CST Randle will choose from four hats set out in front of him. Those four hats represent his four finalists. Kentucky has long been assumed to be the frontrunner, but there has been a substantial amount of smoke surrounding Kansas as a real player in this recruitment since Randle's visit for College Gameday in February.
Randle brings a combination of size and athleticism that is rare for someone his age. He can create a mismatch with a big by extending his game to the perimeter and he can also bully his way underneath when needed. Randle can bring the ball up the floor, he passes well and he has all the tools to be a back to the basket big as well. The consensus is that his game is extremely versatile and that would be a GREAT fit in Bill Self's system.
It's that fit that has many thinking Kansas could be the pick. Bill Self has put numerous big men in the NBA. He has put traditional back to the basket bigs in the league, defensive stoppers in the middle and even a few big men who can step away and play the three like Marcus Morris. Randle fits that mold, Kansas has playing time and Bill Self is the most successful coach in college basketball over the last decade.
The good news is that regardless of the decision, Kansas is in good hand. The recruiting class in place lays an excellent foundation for the future and Perry Ellis and Naadir Tharpe both continue to make strides this season as they prepare for the handoff. Now if Randle does make the call for Kansas he should step in immediately and solidify the Kansas front line. Combine Randle with Ellis and you have two bigs that can go inside and out which will make the Jayhawks very difficult to defend. Inject a little power from Jamari Traylor and some added size from Joel Embiid and Landon Lucas and you have a number of options on the interior.
In recent years the draw of Kentucky has been hard to say no to. That very well could happen again today, but at least heading into this announcement there does appear to be just as much buzz surrounding a Kansas decision as a Kentucky one. At this point it's anyone's guess, we'll find out soon.