Randle's The Real Deal

In just over a year in the national spotlight, Julius Randle has already accumulated enough accolades to fill a career.

He's earned the consensus No. 1 ranking for the Class of 2013. He was invited to the LeBron James Skills Academy as a sophomore. He was named one of the top 30 players to ever play at the Beach Ball Classic -- ahead of 17 current NBA players.

But when his coaches talk about him, there's no need for hype. The truth is scary enough.

"When people see him play, it speaks for itself," Prestonwood coach Brad Freeman said. "We don't have to fabricate anything by any means. He's the real deal."

Normally when a prospect distinguishes himself at such a young age it's because he's physically dominant. But while Randle is an elite athlete, that's not what makes him special. At 6-foot-9 235 pounds, Randle can handle the ball, run the floor and finish at the rim. He's a skilled forward who can play in the post or some on the wing. He thrives in the clutch.

He's a basketball player, not an athletic specimen.

"He's not a freak in the sense that he jumps over cars," Texas Titans AAU coach Scott Pospichal said. "He's not Blake Griffin, but at 6-foot-9, 235, what God has blessed him with is amazing. Whether it's going right or going left, whether it's shooting the basketball, blocking shots, rebounding -- Julius does a lot of things."

Unlike some young post players, Randle's game starts at the 15-foot mark and works its way in. His coaches call him a 4/3 or a 3/4 but a more effective way to describe him is by talking about where he gets his points.

With his combination of quickness and strength, Randle is extremely dangerous facing up and attacking the rim. Randle is too strong for smaller defenders and too quick for bigger ones. Couple that with his knack for finishing in traffic with either hand and he's tough to control.

"Some of the shots he makes are just unbelievable the way he's able to get the ball in the hole," Freeman said. "He shoots a very high percentage and doesn't miss a lot. When he does, he gets his own rebound and puts it back. He just finishes well. Better than anybody I've seen."

His jump shot and back-to-the basket game are both sound -- not spectacular -- but often underutilized because of how effective he is attacking the basket and getting out in transition. He has a standard repertoire of post moves -- an up-and-under, a drop step and a jump hook -- but he's much more comfortable using his skill to get to the rim.

According to Freeman, Randle really starts to excel when he gets out in the open floor. Late in games, Randle will often get a rebound and start the fast break going the other way.

At one tournament North Carolina coach Roy Williams attended, Randle got the ball on the break and jumped from the left block to the other side of the basket where he finished with a reverse layup.

"After the game Roy Williams commented to me that he didn't have anybody on his team who could do what Julius just did," Freeman said. "That says a lot for a high school sophomore."

Though Randle has the goods to post big numbers, his coaches say that's not really his style. He's more likely to have an efficient night with his biggest buckets coming down the stretch than to post 30 points consistently. If he does go for 30, it's normally on a night when his team needs him against a quality opponent.

"He's great in the end," Pospichal said. "He'll yield for three quarters and then all of a sudden it's Julius Randle time. He's just a great closer."

At this point in his development, Randle is comfortable shooting out to 15 or 17 feet but his range expands late in games, according to his coaches. Pospichal said the only threes Randle hits consistently are the ones that matter.

"Last year, we're playing in the LeBron James tournament in Ohio and we're in the semifinal game against the Atlanta Knicks. And he steps out and on three consecutive possessions shoots and makes three pointers," Pospichal said. "He doesn't take a lot of them but when he shoots them, he believes they're going to go in."

And the formula works, too. Last summer, the Texas Titans were 56-2 and won a national championship in their age division.

Randle puts winning at a premium, sacrificing numbers and accolades in the process. In fact, last summer he passed on an invitation to the LeBron James Skills Academy to play with his team in the national championship tournament.

With the balance in his game, there aren't a lot of glaring areas of improvement according to his coaches. He's already strong enough to physically compete at the college level. His jump shooting stroke looks good -- shooting 74 percent from the line this year -- and his range is improving.

Pospichal said if there's anything Randle could work on it's becoming a more aggressive defender. But his improvement has been so consistent he expects that to progress as well.

"Each year he gets better at something," Pospichal said. "He makes plays where we look at each other on the bench and say ‘Can you believe that?'"

Julius Randle Profile


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