This is pretty cool. Julius Randle, considered by many recruitniks to be the top prospect in the 2013 class, granted USA Today writer Jason Jordan an inside look into his recruitment. Randle, a power forward for Plano (Tex.) Prestonwood Christian, recently conducted in-home visits with coaches from 10 schools over the course of a few weeks. The column--a four-parter--covers his visits with coaches from NC State, Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, and Kansas. Randle is also considering Florida, Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.
While NCAA regulations prohibit Jordan from being physically present whenever Randle meets with coaches, Jordan was able to get the "inside scoop" from Randle and his mother, Carolyn Kyles, prior to and immediately following any visits. Jordan also gets the full "Randle experience," including the stress of handling recruiting, his physically exhausting basketball workouts, and his BMOC status roaming the halls of Prestonwood Christian. It's well worth a read, but below are some choice excerpts.
Prior to any visits, Randle got a "welcome to the contact period" surprise from the Baylor coaching staff. Some people call Baylor head coach Scott Drew relentless; others call him dirty. There's no questioning, though, that he is an effective recruiter.
The day started for Kyles when at 6 a.m., she stumpled upon an interesting surprise from Baylor on her way for a morning jog. There, littered all over her porch, were more than 30 flyers from the coaching staff urging Randle to be a Bear.
"Baylor wanted to get the first in-home at 12:01 a.m. since they were the first to recruit Julius in the eighth grade," Kyles says. "But I told them if they come knocking on my door that time of night I’m calling the cops."
How does Calipari do it? Just play up the Kentucky Effect and get a little schmooze on.
"Cal is just, well, Cal," Kyles says of Kentucky coach John Calipari, who showed up at 7:45 that evening. "He’s just got swag. I mean he had a driver. There wasn't any presentation - it was just Cal talking off the cuff and chilling out with us."
He shows up sporting his 2012 championship ring, showed off slides of him with well-known hip hop stars like Jay-Z, then upped Kyles’ excitement with three words: "red velvet cake."
Calipari’s message was simple: Come to Kentucky for a year, compete for a national title and dress nice on NBA Draft night.
It’s a text from Calipari saying: "Your mom is the best."
"I really am," Kyles interrupts with a smile.
Next, a look at the competition. They claim NBA connections, but hey, Coach Cal just keeps getting his guys guaranteed NBA Draft millions. So he's got that going for him, which is nice.
Here was the much tweeted about Roy Williams approach:
Randle liked Williams unexpected approach. Especially when he whipped out the black case filled with 30 championship rings - everything from conference titles to national titles - that he's won over the years.
"Yeah all 30 of them," Randle says. "I couldn’t believe that he had Michael Jordan’s 1992 championship ring. Coach came strong tonight."
And Mike Krzyzewski's Team USA hypnotism at work:
"Wow, I mean wow," Kyles says. "Coach K is just awesome. You can’t help but to buy in to everything he’s telling you."
Kyles is unabashed about the fact that she grew up a Duke fan, but she’s careful to point out that "I don’t put that off on J, and it certainly won’t impact my thought process or his decision."
"He said he helped LeBron out a lot with his defensive positioning and things like that while he coached him with Team USA," Randle says. "He said that he saw me as a LeBron-type, a guy who can play and guard multiple positions. I can’t front, I was feelin’ that."
And of course, lest everyone forgets, these are young men about to make the decisions of their lives. It's hard. It's supposed to be hard. And fans shouldn't make it any harder. One day soon, Randle will make his choice, and leave 9 fanbases disappointed. And whether he picks Kentucky or not, I'll still be rooting for someone who seems like a fine young man and a future basketball superstar.
The realization that he’s going to have to call nine of these guys and say, "Thanks, but no thanks" overwhelms him.
He glances over at Kyles then looks back down at the table. Then he does it again.
"So, when the time comes, I have to call the coaches and tell them myself?" Randle says.
Kyles stops washing the dishes and shoots him a quizzical squint as if she’s about to answer in a no-nonsense tone, but musters up the most endearing and understanding response.
"Well, J it’s the right thing to do," she says.
"No one else does that though ma," Randle says. "No one."
"Well, I can’t speak for everyone else," Kyles says. "But you’re my son, and my son is a man. These are the types of things that men do."