Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Contingency plan for Randle's finalists
By Adam Finkelstein
Julius Randle played out his recruiting until just about the 11th hour. And when the music finally stopped playing and Randle picked Kentucky on Wednesday, there were three schools left standing with broken hearts. Here’s a look at where those programs go from here.
Texas was unable to keep Julius Randle in the Lone Star State and will have to turn its attention elsewhere.
The Longhorns finished under .500 for the first time during the Rick Barnes era, and Randle is exactly the type of game-changing player who could have instantly reinvigorated the program. His pledge to Kentucky only reinforces what Barnes already knew -- that there won’t be a quick turnaround via recruiting. Instead, Texas will have to improve internally. Obviously this season would have been much different if PG Myck Kabongo had been eligible for more than 10 games, and the hope in Austin is that he’ll return for his junior season. If he doesn’t, guys like Julien Lewis and Sheldon McClellan, both of whom showed flashes of upside this season as sophomores, will have to provide starring roles on a more consistent basis. From a recruiting standpoint, after adding three-star SG Demarcus Croaker on Tuesday, Texas’ next potential score will be with local products in the Class of 2014 such as Emmanuel Mudiay and Kelly Oubre.
The Jayhawks had two remaining targets in the Class of 2013: Randle and Wiggins. With Randle off the board, they’ll focus their efforts exclusively on landing Wiggins. The reality is that they went all-in on Randle, and missing out on him will have ramifications in two areas. In terms of how it will impact the team next season, look for Joel Embiid’s development to accelerate, as he’ll have to become an immediate contributor for Kansas next season. The Jayhawks are also going to rely on Perry Ellis to step up and play a bigger role at the 4 spot. From a recruiting standpoint, Kansas will need to find at least one immediate impact 2014 frontcourt player, especially if Embiid lives up to his lottery potential in Year 1. ESPN 60 products like Cliff Alexander, Leron Black and Kevon Looney are some of the top candidates, but expect that list to get bigger before it gets smaller.
The Gators have been the major question mark in Randle’s recruiting for the past several weeks, with a wide variety of contradicting reports surfacing in the last 24 hours. Some said the Gators were the runners-up, others that they really weren’t in the mix. What is certain, however, is that Billy Donovan is nothing if not a pragmatist when it comes to recruiting, so you can bet that he and his staff saw this coming long before the general public did. With Erik Murphy graduating this year, the key to Florida’s frontcourt is now likely to be whether Patric Young returns or makes the jump to the NBA. Donovan has never been averse to taking an appropriately suited role player, so there is a possibility that such a frontcourt prospect could join top-15 recruits Kasey Hill and Chris Walker. What remains clear is that Florida will target an immediate impact 4 man in the 2014 class. Trey Lyles, Payton Dastrup and Abdul-Malik Abu are some of the early favorites.