Julius Randle declares for NBA draft

Julius Randle declares for NBA draft
April 22, 2014, 6:30 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON — The options for the Boston Celtics to consider with the first of their two, first-round picks in June's NBA draft just expanded with Kentucky star Julius Randle making himself available to be selected.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound freshman is considered a high lottery pick (top 14) who may be on the board when it's time for the Celtics to make their first pick.

By finishing in a tie for the fourth-worst record in the NBA this past season - and losing the drawing to break the tie, to Utah - the Celtics (25-57) will pick no lower than No. 8.

Boston also has another first-round pick, No. 17 overall, as part of the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade with Brooklyn last summer.

Drafting Randle wouldn't fill the void this team has at the center position. But he would add more depth and youthful talent to a Celtics frontcourt that includes Jared Sullinger who will be going into his third NBA season, along with second-year-to-be big men Kelly Olynyk and Vitor Faverani.

A third-team Associated Press All-American as a freshman, Randle averaged 15 points and 10.5 rebounds while tallying a nation-leading 24 double-doubles.

His entry into this year's draft was expected even before the prep All-American set foot on the Lexington, Ky. campus.

And to Randle's credit, he consistently played at a level one would expect from a one-and-done talent.

But the Wildcats struggled to win early on, only to rally behind the strong play of many - Randle included -  for a postseason run that ended with a national runner-up finish to NCAA champion UConn.

Multiple scouts have indicated Randle will likely be selected somewhere between No. 4-10, depending on his workouts and those of other draft-eligible players.

"He has such a great, great motor," one scout said. "He's really talented, really consistent and he's going to be a good player in this league for a long time."

He joins Kentucky teammate James Young, a sophomore, as an early entrant in this year's draft. Kentucky freshmen Dakari Johnson and twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison, are also contemplating tossing their names into June's draft. Sophomore Alex Poythress is also thinking of turning pro.