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.
The month of March was quite friendly to Las Vegas.
According to ESPN, more money was bet on basketball during the month of March than in any month in the state’s regulated sports betting history.
And while the numbers produced by Las Vegas books don’t separate college and professional basketball betting, the money coming in on college hoops is pretty clear: $439 million was bet on basketball in March, more than double the $213 million bet on the sport in February.
It was profitable, too.
Those Vegas books kept more than $40 million dollars of the money that was gambled on basketball, which shattered the previous record of roughly $28 million in winnings.
Gonzaga capitalized on their run to the national title game by landing a commitment from French point guard Joel Ayayi, who announced the news on twitter.
Ayayi is an interesting long-term prospect, according to Draft Express. He has the size and the frame to eventually be a significant contributor in the college game, but he’s raw. His handle needs work, as does his ability to create off the dribble and find teammates off of the bounce.
That said, he’s 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan and the ability to shoot it from the perimeter, and if Gonzaga can do anything, it’s develop players that enter their program.
Zion Williamson, one of the most sought-after recruits in college basketball, had himself a highlight-worthy moment at the Adidas Gauntlet event in Dallas over the weekend, breaking a defender’s ankles before hitting a three.
Illinois landed a very important Class of 2017 commitment on Wednesday as guard Mark Smith pledged to the Illini.
The 6-foot-4 Smith was previously a Missouri commit for baseball, but some issues with his arm caused him to look back into basketball last summer. A native of Edwardsville, in the St. Louis metro area, Smith came out of nowhere to win the Illinois Mr. Basketball award as a senior this season as he averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds while becoming a consensus national top-100 prospect.
Rivals rates Smith as the No. 52 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 as he could come in and earn immediate minutes at Illinois next season at either guard spot.
This is a very important commitment for head coach Brad Underwood and the Illini as the new head coach was able to hold off some elite programs like Kentucky and Michigan State for Smith’s services.
Northwestern landed a transfer on Wednesday as former Boston College wing A.J. Turner pledged to the Wildcats, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.
The 6-foot-7 Turner just finished his sophomore season with the Golden Eagles as he averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. A well-rounded wing who also shot 37 percent from three-point range, Turner will have to sit out one season due to NCAA transfer regulations before getting two more years of eligibility.
With Scottie Lindsay and Vic Law only having limited time left in Evanston, Turner provides a bit of insurance on the wing for the Wildcats for the future as he’s a proven rotation player coming from the ACC.