Randle formally introduced by Lakers

Hearing his name called on NBA Draft night was a dream come true for Julius Randle.

Hearing it called with the Los Angeles Lakers affixed made it one of those sweet dreams no one never wants to end.

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"As a kid, I always grew up a Laker fan," Randle said Monday during his introductory press conference with the Los Angeles media. "I was always a fan of the organization… It just felt like the right place for me."

The 6-foot-9 forward from the University of Kentucky was selected No. 7 overall last week in the draft, joining former Wildcat teammate James Young (No. 17 to Boston) as the latest UK freshmen to be scooped up by the NBA.

The magnitude of his new basketball home sank in when Randle was taking a tour of the Lakers' facilities with general manager Mitch Kupchak.

"It was kind of surreal," Randle said. "I was walking in here with Mitch, and he goes, ‘You know what those things are right there?' I was like, ‘Whoa.' I had never seen the championship (banners) before. It's kind of a humbling experience, surreal, to see those numbers up there, but at the same time, that's what I expect of myself."

That competitive drive is one of the factors that attracted the 16-time NBA champions, even though they are prepared for the patience that comes along with selecting a "one-and-done" player.

"It's going to be a big adjustment for him," Kupchak said. "He's younger than most players that are coming into the NBA, but he competes and he plays physical. He's going to get minutes, not only because we need players but because he can earn it. That's what he did at Kentucky. There will be an adjustment period, but he'll fit right in, and I think quite quickly."

Randle said his choice to attend UK will help him make the transition to an organization like the Lakers.

"When you play at a place like Kentucky, in the state of Kentucky all they know is Kentucky basketball. They love Kentucky basketball. They live and die by it," he said. "And, you know, it's the same way with L.A. They love the Lakers, and they expect nothing less than championships from the Lakers. That's how it is with Kentucky. They don't expect to lose. I think coming from that type of environment prepared me for this."

Some NBA analysts suggested Randle's complete skill set was not on display at UK due to playing with so many other talented players, but when asked about how he was utilized by the Wildcats, the Texas native said it's a matter of putting the team ahead of the individual.

"When you go to a place like Kentucky and you play with so much talent, it's about sacrificing and knowing your role to win," he said. "Coach (Calipari) didn't hold me back in any way. We just had to sacrifice, and we learned it later in the year what we had to do in order for our team to win."

Of course, winning in L.A. means finding a way to blend in with one of the league's all-time greats, guard Kobe Bryant.

Asked if he's had a chance to speak with the future Hall of Famer and five-time NBA champion, Randle joked: "I haven't. I've been warned. (Laughs) Yeah, I've been warned and told he can push his teammates…. I'm excited to be able to learn from him."

Randle isn't sure exactly what position he'll play with the Lakers. The versatile forward could fit as a 3 or a 4 in certain sets. But L.A. has many personnel holes to fill, and doesn't even have a head coach at this time.

"It's such a winning organization that I trust everything that they'll do," Randle said. "I'm not really worried about that. I know it'll be the right coach.

"Once we get the players and stuff, I'll find out what I have to do for the team to help us win games. To keep improving my skills and get better on the defensive end (will be priorities)."

For now, getting in better physical condition will be Randle's focus as the summer league approaches next week. His current plan is to play, provided the rest of his physicals go well.

"The biggest difference for me from high school to college was taking care of your body and the grind of things, the whole process from day to day, and how to attack that," Randle said. "I think that really prepared me for this next step as far as the season is a lot longer than it was in college, and I know I have to do the right things to take care of my body every day because you see guys like Kobe and Tim Duncan and all those guys – there's a reason why they've been playing for so long because they've been taking care of their body. I guarantee they started at a young age, so that's something that I want to get better at."

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