Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Julius Randle is Bringing the Alpha Beast back to Lexington

USA TODAY Sports

Leading up to Big Blue Madness A Sea of Blue will be previewing each scholarship player on the 2013/2014 basketballl team. In this edition incoming freshman Julius Randle is profiled.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, John Wall, and Brandon Knight are a few of the players in the Calipari era that can be referred to as "Alpha Beasts". They were players that would put the team on their backs in grind it out situations and lead them to victory. They were not only some of the most gifted players on their teams; they were also the hardest workers and the most competitive. They hated losing almost as much as they loved winning.

There wasn't an Alpha Beast to be found on last season's team. The player that was the closest to being described as an Alpha Beast was Nerlens Noel but his season was cut short and he never really displayed the type of killer instinct on a consistent basis that the other Alpha Beasts did.

Enter Julius Randle. Randle may be just an incoming freshman, but he has the reputation of a workaholic and a player that will push teammates to their boundaries during practice. He talks trash to his opponents but he backs it up with his play. He is relentless on the court and he isn't shy about letting his emotions show.

Randle battled Jabari Parker for the top spot in the 2013 recruit rankings until Andrew Wiggins reclassified and claimed the top spot. Randle ended up being ranked as the second or third best player in the country (depending on which ranking service one looked at) and the top power forward.

Randle kept a recruiting diary for USA Today and described his in home visits with some of the top basketball coaches in the country including John Calipari, Bill Self and Roy Williams among others. He gave basketball fans an inside glimpse at what it was like to be wooed as one of the nation's best high school prospects.

It was widely believed that Randle was a Kansas lean as a recruit, and there were rumors that he didn't get along with Kentucky commits Andrew and Aaron Harrison. But he put those rumors to rest and chose to play for the University of Kentucky. In the end, it was Cal's promise to make him work harder than he has ever worked before and the promise that he would have to earn every second of playing time at practice that won him over. Julius isn't one to back down from a challenge and being a Kentucky Wildcat will be one of the biggest challenges of his young career.

Randle competed in the McDonald's All American Game, the Nike Hoops Summit and the Jordan Brand Classic. In each game he was a standout and showed immense athletic ability. At times he looked like a man among boys. Now he brings his skill and his attitude to Kentucky in pursuit of a national championship.


Measurements:

Height - 6-9

Weight - 240

Position - Power Forward

Recruiting Breakdown (RSCI consensus) - #1 Power Forward; #2 Overall Player

Strengths:

Randle can make every move under the basket that one needs the player of his size to make. He can bully on the block by lowering his shoulder and making a power move to the rim. He has great footwork for a big man that enables him to out maneuver players of similar size. He can run the court, handle the ball on the perimeter and has a great jump shot to go along with his low-post game. In reality he is almost impossible to guard one on one for the duration of an entire basketball game. He can impose his will and wear down his opponent or he can bring him out to the perimeter and take control from there.

Weaknesses:

There aren't many. Some draft experts feel that he can fall in love with his jump shot a little too much. While his shooting is a vital part of his arsenal, Randle is not a wing player. His home is near the basket and that's where he will do the most damage. In order for Julius and Kentucky to be successful this season he needs to use his jump shot only when necessary and he needs to earn his keep close to the basket.

Coach Calipari On Randle:

"Julius Randle, truly a hard worker who can play multiple positions, who can play inside and out. He's a beast. He's an alpha beast who will drive the team. Has a little bit of Micheal (Kidd-Gilchrist) in him, in a different way. In my mind, there are good players out there, he's as good as any of them."

2013 Expectations:

Randle is already exceeding expectations during summer workouts. He is pushing Alex Poythress to new levels in pick-up games. He is drawing praise from former ‘Cats and NBA players such as DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis, who have all played against him.

He is said to already be NBA ready and a force to be reckoned with. Calipari has said multiple times that Randle is going to be one of the leaders of the team.

There is no doubt that he is going to be one of the top players in the country. He will be surrounded by one of the top front courts in the nation with Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee. These big men will force other teams to pick their poison; double team one and leave the others open or try your best to guard each of them one on one. Randle will benefit greatly from these mismatches.

He will also benefit from the point guard play of Andrew Harrison. The duo of Randle and Harrison has been tabbed as one of the best one-two punches in college basketball.

Defensively he has the ability to lock down any player that he is guarding. His length, strength and athleticism will make it difficult for any player to score on him.

John Calipari has had many players bring a lot of hype into Kentucky but very few have been as highly regarded as Randle. He is garnering praise from everyone that he has come into contact with and he is said to be further along that John Wall and Anthony Davis were as freshmen at Kentucky. Randle should be the go-to-guy for the Wildcats. He may be the biggest asset for Kentucky if they want to reach a ninth national title.

And don't sleep on Randle as the #1 draft pick in 2014.

2012/2013 Recruit Mix Tape:

Watch this and then try to say he isn't the real deal.


In the Next Preview: Dakari Johnson is Looking to Surprise People

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