Julius Randle was only at Kentucky for a year, but he made a major impact in his one year in Lexington. He averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds a game, while playing a critical role in the Wildcats’ run from being an 8-seed to the National Championship Game.
Randle recently opened up about his experience at UK in a recent podcast interview with Adrian Wojnarowski.
Randle said that the team’s loss to UCONN in the NCAA Championship will always haunt him, noting that it was in his hometown.
“I only got one shot at it,” Randle said. “...So it will always haunt me.” He noted that Coach Calipari told him that he needed to enter the NBA Draft.
Randle also spoke on why he wanted to go to Kentucky.
“From my junior year of high school, that was kind of my thing,” he said. “I wanted to go to the place where I had the best chance to win the National Championship in my hometown.”
He also spoke about the team’s up-and-down season. The 2013-2014 season had its share of highs and lows. The Wildcats went 29-11, including a 12-6 conference record. The Wildcats dropped non-conference games against Michigan State, Baylor, and UNC. Once into SEC play, they dropped road games at Arkansas, at LSU, at South Carolina, and at Florida. They also dropped home games against Arkansas and Florida that year.
“We had so much talent,” he said. “We didn’t know how to play with each other, so it was so up and down. By the time of the end of the year, the SEC Tournament, it clicked. It looked like we were going to be a force to be reckoned with, we weren’t going to be stopped.”
“I think we thought it was going to be a lot easier than what it was going to be. I think we thought it was going to be easier than it would be because we had the talent, we had everything there at our disposal, but it wasn’t easy. It’s not easy. Looking back, I don’t think we came in with the mindset that we didn’t have to work or we didn’t have to put in effort. We were just young. We didn’t know much. We had to take our lumps to realize that we needed each other.
Randle also spoke highly of Calipari’s ability to mesh highly talented one-and-done players into a cohesive team.
“You know that he has your best interests in mind,” Randle said. “He knows what your goals are when you go there. He knows you want to go to the NBA and be a pro. Somehow he makes that work, showcasing your best talents, abilities, and strengths to NBA teams, but he is also making it a strength of the team. He gets guys to buy in, he gets guys to be a team on and off the court, and I don’t know. He just has that unique ability.”
Wojnarowski asked Randle whether the scrutiny was higher playing for the Los Angeles Lakers or the Kentucky Wildcats. He commented about the pressure of being a Wildcat.
“You don’t want to lose either place. Lexington is a small town. You’ll bump into the fans anywhere you go. You can’t hide or escape... You gotta work through it... Equally, I don’t think you want to lose in either place. There’s so much rich history and tradition. They expect so much from you.”
Randle talks about a variety of things in the podcast, including growing up, his family, injuries, being recruited, playing at Kentucky, and much more. It’s a pretty interesting listen. His comments about his time at Kentucky start around the You can hear the rest here.