Lakers Work Out Freshman Randle
In addition to the five freshman the Lakers worked out on June 4, the team brought in another one-and-done prospect for a solo pre-draft session at the practice facility on Tuesday: Kentucky forward Julius Randle.
"They wanted to see my versatility, how I shoot the ball," Randle said. "Put me on different spots on the floor, seeing how my hands are, testing my skills out."
The Texas native averaged 15.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in his lone season under John Calipari and helped lead the Wildcats to the NCAA championship game. He set UK single-season freshman records in rebounds (417), double-doubles (24) and free throws made (204).
Despite playing one of the longer college seasons of anybody entering the NBA Draft (40 games), Randle had already been working out on his own in an effort to shed some weight. He acknowledged his playing weight at Kentucky wasn't normal for him.
"I just wanted to make sure I was taking care of my body and getting in the best possible shape I can," he said. "The biggest difference from high school to college was the longevity and duration of the season – the grind of every day. From college to the NBA, it’s going to be an even bigger jump. I wanted to make sure my body is in the best possible physical condition and ready for that wear and tear cause I want to have a long career."
Multiple reports, however, have surfaced about Randle's right foot may require surgery before the NBA Draft, an injury he dealt with as a high school senior. But Randle has quelled those claims on many occasions, including today, maintaining he is healthy.
"I met with the best foot doctor in the country and he said he wouldn’t do anything with my foot," he said. "There’s no scheduled surgery or anything. I feel healthy; athletically I’m moving great, (there are) no problems recovering and I’m ready to go.
While at Kentucky, the 6-foot-9, 250-pounder showed a propensity to overpower his opponents off the dribble or on the low block. But Randle believes he has a much more diverse skillset, one that can fit well in any NBA system today, whether it be playing as a big man or stretching the floor from the outside.
"I’m interchangeable because I’m very versatile as far as things I can do on both ends of the floor, and I think I can play many different styles," Randle said. "I don’t think only one style fits me. I think teams are going to see my versatility and know they can use me in many ways, whichever way is best for the team."
Though his offensive game has been lauded, there have been concerns about his defensive capabilities. But Randle believes that was one area he improved in over the course of his freshman season.
"Last year was the first year where I was held accountable on the defensive end as far as stopping my man," he said. "It wasn’t just my man, but taking care of the guy next to you. That was the first year I was held accountable for it, but I got better at it. I can move my feet well. I’m fast and athletic, so as far as me on the defensive end, I don’t think it’ll be a struggle because I’m such a competitor."
Were he to be drafted by the Lakers? Randle is ready for the expectations and pressure to deliver and win right away, especially coming from Kentucky.
"It’d be amazing," he said. "I heard Kobe is a little tough on rookies, but I don’t care. To be in an organization like this, with such great owners, with such a great front office. The city of Los Angeles expects nothing but championships. What more can I ask for?"