Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Kentucky’s Randle, Young Headed to Storied Franchises in L.A. and Boston (UPDATED)
NEW YORK — The Kentucky duo of Julius Randle and James Young were drafted by two of the most storied franchises in the NBA.
The 6-foot-9 Randle was chosen by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 7 overall pick in the NBA Draft at the Barclays Center, while the 6-7 Young went at No. 17 to the Boston Celtics.
“Lakers, that’s about championships. That’s what I want to bring,” said the 250-pound Randle.
He added: “I couldn’t be more blessed and fortunate to go to an organization like Los Angeles,”
“To be able to learn from those guys. They’ve had so much history and so much success in the past, and to be able to go to an organization like that, who’s had amazing players in the past and learn from a guy like Kobe — I mean, I couldn’t be more happy. This is truly a blessing for me.”
Said Young: “I’m very excited. He’s doing well going to the Lakers, and I feel like I’m going to do well going to the Celtics. I’m pretty sure we’ll cross paths soon.”
It is the fifth-consecutive NBA draft that Kentucky was represented by multiple players in the first round of the draft.
Randle averaged 15.0 points on 50 percent shooting and 10.4 rebounds in his freshman season, leading the Wildcats all the way to the NCAA title game, where they lost to UConn.
Randle said he hoped to absorb as much as he could from Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who will be returning from an Achilles’ injury.
“I’m going to learn a lot,” he said. “He may get tired of me because I’m going to be bugging him learning, trying to learn stuff from him. So I’m going to learn a lot from him.
“But I think it’s more than him. He was blessed to be in an organization like the Lakers as well. Talent alone, his work ethic alone got him there, but I think the Lakers was the right fit., the right organization for me to go to.”
According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Kentucky’s other top-10 picks under coach John Calipari are No. 1 John Wall (2010), No. 1 Anthony Davis (2012), No. 2 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2012), No. 3 Enes Kanter (2011), No. 5 DeMarcus Cousins (2010), No. 6 Nerlens Noel (2013) and No. 8 Brandon Knight (2011).
Calipari told The Courier-Journal that Randle can “be somebody’s third-best player, second-best player, best player – over a period of time.”
Reports surfaced that Randle needs left foot surgery down the road to remove a screw that was inserted after an injury in high school, but Randle has been steadfast in maintaining he doesn’t need the surgery and will be ready for summer league.
“I expect to,” he said, “but different doctors have different opinions. So you really never know. But as far as the start of the season, that’s what I’m worried about. I mean, I’ll be there.”
Young, meantime, was the Celtics’ second pick of the night, following Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart at No. 6. The two roomed together at the Pre-Draft Combine in Chicago “so me and him have a little connection.”
“We can always build a relationship and definitely just start from there,” Young said of Smart.
Young was recently in a minor car accident and there was some thought that his draft stock might tumble as a result, but he went just below the lottery at 17.
A left-hander with a sweet stroke, Young averaged 14.3 points and 4.3 rebounds last season.
Young, like Randle, said he wants to revive the winning tradition with his new team.
“Just feel like we got to keep going along with the energy and toughness that Boston has,” Young said. “Just going along with it. I feel like we can be a very good team. I feel like if we just connect together, we can be really good.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.