For much of the summer there has been debate on who the best player in high school basketball is. The question has been: is it Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins or the bull in a china shop, Julius Randle. When watching Randle, it isn’t difficult to see why the burly Texan is in the discussion.
The nation’s top power forward rattled the famed Venice Beach rims as he took home the Elite 24 dunk championship. Randle then proceeded to pour in 27 points on an extremely efficient 13/14 from the field during the Elite 24 game itself.
The highly coveted recruit has slimmed down since his freshman year, but the big man says he doesn’t even lift weights; he simply does some conditioning work. One thing is for sure: while he’s already got a college-ready body, once Randle hits the weight room and gets into a college strength program, he truly will be able to bull his way through most college defenders.
During his busy weekend in California, Randle spoke with BDN about his summer and Coach K, among other topics.
BlueDevilNation: This is your second trip to the Elite 24. You’re one of the senior guys now. It’s definitely a nice accomplishment. How has your experience been so far?
Julius Randle: Oh yeah, it’s been great. It’s the second time I’ve been here so I know a little of what to expect. It’s always fun just to come out here. It’s an honor. It’s great to relax and the game is really fun and something I definitely enjoy.
BDN: How was playing with the pro’s?
JR: Oh it was cool, you know. The scrimmage wasn’t too intense, but, you know, just being on the court with those guys you still can always learn something from those guys, so that’s always cool.
BDN: Earlier this summer you had a pretty difficult matchup with Andrew Wiggins. Can you talk a little bit about that matchup you had? [private]
JR: You know, he’s a great player. He can do a lot of different things on the court. He’s really athletic and skilled. He was a great player to play against. He’s long and it was a fun matchup. It was probably one of the best games of the summer, even though it didn’t go out like I wanted.
BDN: Are you better than him? (sly smile)
JR: (laughs and smiles while talking to Tyus Jones) I believe so. I don’t believe anybody is better than me.
BDN: On the days when you’re tired and don’t want to work out, what motivates you to keep going?
JR: Just me wanting to be the best, you know. If you work every day when you feel like it then you’re not going to get too far. But if you also work out when you don’t feel like it, you’ll get somewhere.
BDN: Comparing yourself from your freshman year to now, you’ve seemed to tone up a lot. Is this something you try to work on?
JR: Honestly, I don’t know too much on what I’m doing other than just eating right and conditioning. But I don’t lift weights at all. I probably just ride the bike and run and just try to eat right.
BDN: Are you still working on those recipes?
JR: (laughs) Ahh no, not too much of that, not too much of that.
BDN: There’s been comparisons between your game and Lebron's. Not just talent-wise, but more so on your style of game where you play inside and out.
JR: You know, he’s a great player. It’s an honor for people to compare me like that to him. If I can do what he’s done (laughs) then that’s just a blessing and an honor. I don’t worry too much about that. I just want to be my own player, have my own style, and you know, just make my own way.
BDN: Are schools recruiting you as a certain position?
JR: Just like a combo forward really. They don’t even really see me as a position really, they just see me as a player.
BDN: Is that something that appeals more to you than being recruited at a specific position?
JR: Yeah, because I think that’s the type of player I am. I can do multiple things on the court, so they can just play me.
BDN: You had an incredible opportunity this summer to play for Team USA. Could you talk about that experience and what it was like?
JR: Yeah. It’s probably been the best basketball experience I’ve had so far. You know, that was just amazing. It was so much different for me but I enjoyed it a lot.
BDN: Who did you room with over there?
JR: Rodney Purvis. And then when we went out of the country it was me, Rodney, and Marcus Smart.
BDN: I asked Justise Winslow about this, but also wanted your take. There’s been a perception over the years that Texas is a football state, but if you look at the recent high talent coming out of the state it doesn’t seem that perception fits so much anymore. Do you feel that way?
JR: You know, Texas is probably at the highest it’s been in basketball as far as players coming out every year consistently and players being good. So I do think people are really starting to realize that it’s just not a football state, it’s a basketball state too. It’s just our job, and the players that are younger than us to keep that going.
BDN: There’s been some rumors in the past I wanted to ask you about. You can put them at rest if you wish.
JR: (laughs) It’s cool, I already know what it is. The twins?
BDN: Oh, no no. I’ve read that one, too. The rumor was that you’d be transferring from PCA (Prestonwood Christian Academy)?
JR: No, oh no. I don’t know where that came from.
BDN: Alright then. Kind of going back to Team USA, one of the coaches that is recruiting you is Coach K. Obviously with him being with the national team, he wasn’t able to be there. Did that make a difference to you at all?
JR: You know, it does a little bit, but when it comes down to it I got to make the best choice for me. I know Coach K’s proven, I know what he can do with me. He’s done a lot of great things as far as players you know. I mean, what does he have? Like 21 final fours, four national championships, two USA gold medals. His resume speaks for itself. So, you know, I know what he can do.
BDN: Did you keep in contact with him while he was overseas?
JR: Yeah, he texted me pretty much like after every game, so it was pretty cool.
BDN: Did you keep in contact with the assistants?
JR: Oh yeah. I talk to Coach Capel a lot.
BDN: What’s your relationship like with Coach Capel?
JR: Oh, it’s really good. I had a relationship with him while he was at Oklahoma so, you know, it kind of transferred over.
BDN: Thanks a lot for your time, Julius.
JR: No problem. [/private]