In a move that shocked absolutely no one, Julius Randle made it official — he will be in the NBA next season.
“Talking with my family, a lot of prayer, I’m deciding to declare for the NBA draft,” Randle said. “I came here to grow and mature. I’ve done that.”
MORE: The list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft
Randle averaged 15.0 points and 10.4 boards despite double- and triple-teams all season long, leading Kentucky to the national title game, a run that helped erase the memory of a disappointing regular season. Randle is expected to be taken in the top five, meaning that he should earn himself a guaranteed two-year contract worth at least $6 million come draft day. That would be enough to convince me to leave school.
Randle is a powerful left-handed forward, strong enough to score in the post and athletic enough to beat slower defenders off the dribble. He’s going to need to add some more finesse moves to his repertoire at the NBA level, as his game right now revolves around overpowering defenders. He won’t be able to do that as consistently at the next level. He also needs to continue to develop his ability to see the floor and distribute the ball. Don’t be surprised to see Randle make a number of all-star teams in his career.
As far as Kentucky is concerned, they are still waiting on four players to make a decision. In the front court, Willie Cauley-Stein and Marcus Lee have both decided to return to school while Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress are still in the midst of the deciding their future. The key, however, is going to be whether or not the Harrison twins decide to return to school. The deadline to enter the NBA Draft is midnight on Sunday night.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.
No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.
Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.
But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.
It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:
After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”: