Randle visits Lawrence: And KU makes it hard for Julius to say no
BY Tom Keegan, Special to the Star Courier
Prestonwood Christian Academy senior Julius Randle, ranked second by Rivals behind only Andrew Wiggins in the Class of 2013 among high school basketball players, had a seat behind the Kansas University bench Saturday night.
The 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward took in an evening that highlighted the past and reminded its audience the present never strays far from the glorious days of yesteryear.
Freed from a funk that included a three-game losing streak, Kansas is back to doing what it usually does under Bill Self now, as well as Roy Williams and Larry Brown before him.
In a word, dominating.
Randle watched Kansas destroy Texas, 73-47, one of the other schools on his short list along with Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina State and Oklahoma.
Not only that, he watched it sitting among seven active NBA players who played their home games in front of adoring capacity crowds, sometimes including fans who were in the building in the morning watching the ESPN "GameDay" crew do its thing.
Mario Chalmers, Nick Collison, Xavier Henry, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor all sat near Randle.
Well before tipoff, students chanted "We want Randle! We want Randle!"
They didn't mean team orthopedist Dr. Jeff Randall, who happened to be strolling past at that moment. Their knees were fine and so were their voices. They used them to speak from the heart.
They want Randle and they made sure he knew how much they want him.
Randle also saw how Kansas treats its stars from the past when he witnessed the unfurling of Chalmers' No. 15 jersey, stationed high on the south wall between those of Wayne Simien (23) and Max Falkenstien (60), both of whom also were in attendance.
Kansas had Texas doubled up, 70-35, late in the game, and the recruiting chant again erupted: "We want Randle! We want Randle!"
Sitting next to his mother and wearing a red sweatshirt and huge grin, Randle thanked the students with a wave. They responded with another chant: "Come to Kansas! Come to Kansas!"
The celebrity list on this electric evening extended beyond those who made their names playing basketball. PGA Tour pro Gary Woodland, who drives a golf ball the way Ben McLemore dunks a basketball, took in the game. Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services since 2009 and Governor of Kansas from 2003-08, looked to be having a blast.
Randle and the crowd caught a glimpse of how much fun the Kansas players have in the locker room, doing the Harlem Shake, which was captured on a video in which McLemore also looks the most talented.
After the blowout, Elijah Johnson shared that when he was in the throes of the worst slump of his career he received encouraging text messages from former stars who let him know they had been there, done that; a once-a-teammate-always-a-teammate reminder that surely would appeal to any recruit pondering a college choice.
Randle totaled 19 points and 10 rebounds in 15 minutes Friday night for Prestonwood in his first game since November, a 74-56 Lions win.
If Randle doesn't choose Kansas, it won't be for lack of effort.
He would be joining a recruiting class ranked second without him. Guards Conner Frankamp and Frank Mason, wings Wayne Selden and Brannen Greene and 7-foot center Joel Embiid make up a class that has everything but a power forward.
Randle certainly couldn't hurt his NBA Draft portfolio by learning to play the sort of team defense Kansas played in harassing Texas into a .218 shooting percentage and a .095 three-point mark on a night the Longhorns had shot-clock violations on back-to-back possessions. And as McLemore showed in executing a 360-degree dunk, Randle also would be coming to a place where freedom of expression isn't discouraged.
Wiggins has Kansas on his list with Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida State.
After the show he witnessed Saturday, it's difficult to imagine Randle saying no to Kansas. Think about it: If you were in his sneakers, could you say no?
Keegan is a writer for Kusports.com. find the original column at: www2.kusports.com/news/2013/feb/17/opinion-ku-makes-it-hard-recruit-julius-randle-say/
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