Last weekend, I had a chance to corner Julius Randle (Dallas/Prestonwood Academy), No. 3 overall in the 2013 class, and talk to him about hoops and his recruitment. Shortly afterward, he went and won the Elite 24 slam dunk competition and was an MVP in the game.
Two days later, Randle said he was considering 10 schools (notice I didn’t say “trim” because 10 schools is a lot to have on a list in September). The 6-foot-9 power forward will decide amongst Florida, Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, NC State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas.
Here is the Q&A I had with him:
Where does the intensity come from?
"I just want to be the best player on the court. It comes from just watching great players like Kobe, LeBron and KD; you see what they do. Me as a competitor watching them it motivates me and I’m a self motivator."
There’s not much intensity out here, so what’s the Elite 24 like?
"This is more fun, it’s not too much of a reality of what basketball is. You aren’t going to face too much adversity out there. It’s more of an honor and you just want to enjoy yourself."
Over the years, who gave you the most trouble?
"Aquille Carr is always hard to play against. Andrew Wiggins, he’s tough. I’d say the player that I least expected to be that hard when we played against him was Tyus Jones. How he plays, he’s kind of like Chris Paul, he makes no mistakes on the court and it seems like he plays a perfect game. I really enjoyed playing against him."
When you look at colleges, what are the pieces that have to be there for you?
"Point guard, shooters and another big man. That’s pretty much it. I want guys who are going to play hard with me."
How much has Matt Jones (Duke commit) leaned on you?
"He’s leaned on me a little bit. Matt’s a good person. He doesn’t care where I go. He’s a good person and a good friend. He wants me to come with him but down inside I know he wants what’s best for me."
Do you have a place in mind that you think is going to be hard to beat?
"It’s been like that at times but it’s changed from place to place. Then I say I want to go here and then six months later I want to go here. Sometimes I do, but my mind changes a lot. I just have to sit down and study the system."
What happens when you switch back and forth on a favorite?
"Maybe you see a player that’s gone there and done well or it’s the coach who is the hottest. You may go take a visit and say this is the place for me. Then once you sit down and think about it you have to take the emotional stuff out of it and think about a business decision."
You recently snuck up to Oklahoma State. Are they in there?
"For sure. I played with Marcus Smart on the USA Team and their coaches talk to me a lot. They kept texting Jeff Webster and he brought me up there. They have the best locker room, it’s a two-story locker room and it’s the best one I’ve ever seen."
Is the plan to wait until the spring?
Probably in the spring to see what players are going there, see what coaches leave and it gives me a last time to really study the system and see what kind of offense they run. It gives me time to look. I’ll probably save some of my visits; I want to go to some basketball games."
What’s been the best experience?
"USA Basketball. It was the longest time I was away from home. A lot of those guys are going to be freshman in college. I played for college coaches and it was the first time I went overseas. We bonded with other players and people I don’t usually hang out with. It helped me mature."
What’s the process been like?
"I’ve had fun with all of it. I don’t think I’ve stepped on too many toes. You don’t want everybody to think you don’t like them. You want to make everyone happy. I don’t want to be a jerk about it. I just want to be as civil as I can."