Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Biancardi's Breakdown: Julius Randle
By Paul Biancardi
With No. 3 overall prospect Julius Randle committing to Kentucky on Wednesday, we’ve decided to take one last look at his game to see what he will offer his team at the next level.
The 6-foot-9, 225-pounder was named a McDonald’s All American and selected to play in the Jordan Brand Classic. Randle recently led his Dallas Prestonwood Christian squad to its second consecutive state crown despite missing the bulk of the season with a foot injury.
Here’s a final breakdown of Julius Randle’s game.
Julius Randle will decide between Texas, Kentucky, Florida and Kansas on March 20.
With his 6-foot-9, 225-pound frame, Randle easily passes the eye test and boasts a college-ready body. He is physically imposing as he possesses a naturally powerful and strong upper body with plenty of explosion in his lower half. Nearly every time he takes the court, Randle is the most athletic and best player on the floor. His awesome athletic ability is key to his making scoring plays at the rim, including tip dunks, catching an alley-oop and finishing in midair. His physical tools factor into every play. For example, his vertical explosiveness and ability to make multiple jumps per possession allows him to block shots or snatch rebounds. He can play position defense and displays good lateral mobility to move his feet quickly and take a charge.
Randle has good court speed and utilizes it to beat opponents down the floor and score in the conversion game or to recover on defense and erase an opponent’s attempt at the rim. He utilizes his fast-twitch muscles on every play and shows first-step quickness with and without the ball.
If you need more proof of his physical gifts, grab a tape of last summer’s Boost Mobile Elite 24 slam dunk contest. Randle bested a field of several of the nation’s best athletes with an array of powerful dunks. When he gets with Kentucky's strength and conditioning coach full time, it will be scary how much more his physical attributes will improve.
Dominating the game with rebounding
Randle can dominate the action and be a true difference-maker with his rebounding and interior scoring. He really makes his mark on the glass, especially at the offensive end of the floor. When he goes for a rebound, his vertical jump is explosive as he reaches with length and secure hands to snatch a rebound. At times he can be downright relentless on the glass, using his hot motor to corral boards outside his area or over anyone sharing his space. Once he gets his hands on the board, he initiates the break via a bust-out dribble and looks to advance the ball coast-to-coast or to facilitate for a teammate.
When it comes to scoring, Randle can be a real matchup problem for foes. In transition, he rim-runs or fills the lane for a dunk or layup. He can punish like-size defenders, muscle through longer athletes or simply out-quick bigger, stronger defenders.
On the low blocks, this left-handed power forward is king once he establishes post position. Randle overpowers defenders with a drop-step or angles to the rim for an easy deuce. In the midpost he is comfortable facing up and attacking his defender’s lead foot, creating contact before spinning and scoring. Randle can pop a short jumper from the high post or drive to the basket from the deep short corner with body control.
In time, he could be great at dribble handoffs and at popping or rolling to the rim. Ball screens will become the next part of his package to develop.
Randle’s game demands double-teaming in the paint, where he is unselfish enough to throw out and smart enough to kick it out and repost. A big percentage of his points come from the free throw line as he is difficult to contain once he’s in motion. He is a strong finisher when close to the rim and can easily finish through contact.
Players as gifted as Randle impose their will using their frame and advanced skills to dominate their peers. Often, that can prevent players from growing in the game, but that is all part of the learning curve. Because he plays with passion and speed, at times Randle goes too fast and gets out of control, leading to turnovers or empty possessions. As he continues to learn the game and play at different speeds, his efficiency will improve. He will also look to add to his offensive repertoire by developing a go-to move in the post, and it will be important for him to have a countermove so he can play through teams sitting on his left hand and right shoulder.
Also, learning to read defenses – specifically double-teams and the ensuing defensive rotations – will be pivotal to his success as a collegiate player. If you have watched Randle play over the course of his career, he has become a better passer than people give him credit for.
He would also benefit from adding some range to his jumper in the offseason as it will make him a dual threat in ball-screen action as a roll/pop threat.
Over the next few months, he will be working on shooting and ballhandling skills in an effort to enhance his overall productivity. Assisting him in this process will be his AAU coach, Jeff Webster, who was a McDonald’s All American and the second all-time leading scorer at Oklahoma, trailing only former NBA star Wayman Tisdale.
When it comes to his future, Randle has all the attributes of a player who should be a game-changer as a freshman and beyond. The physicality of the game won’t be much of an adjustment, but he does need to learn how to utilize his frame for leverage as he moves into the college and pro game. There will be many learning curves along the way, mainly the speed of the action and the processing of concepts and information while staying mentally engaged all season.
Randle’s ceiling of potential is huge as he was rated one of the top players in his class throughout his prep days and was always in the conversation for the No. 1 spot. Randle is a pro in the making, and his pledge to Kentucky will certainly impact the college landscape next season.