Apr 22, 2014 1:11 PM
Kentucky freshman forward Julius Randle announced Tuesday he will be entering the NBA draft.
In his statement, Randle thanked UK fans and said he had the best coaching staff in the country that prepared him for this next step.
With five days left before the deadline for underclassmen to declare, the 6-foot-9 Dallas native announced the decision many expected even before he arrived as part of Kentucky's best recruiting class ever. Projected as a lottery pick from the outset, Randle solidified his draft stock by leading Kentucky (29-11) to the NCAA final behind a string of double-doubles despite being double- and triple-teamed.
Randle averaged 15.0 points and 10.4 rebounds and was voted to The Associated Press' All-America second team. With Tuesday's announcement, he joins guard James Young, who said last week that he would enter the June 26 draft.
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Randle has been honored as a third-team All-America selection by the Associated Press, making him one of three freshmen to earn the distinction.
Randle was a key player in taking the Wildcats to the Final Four in Dallas, and there had been a lot of talk around the freshman and what his decision would be.
Coach Calipari said he had set up meetings with his players throughout the week before Sunday's deadline to enter the NBA draft.
Calipari told ESPN.com he was to meet with Randle on Monday and that he didn't know what Randle would do as of Monday afternoon. He was also supposed to meet with freshman forward Dakari Johnson and sophomore forward Alex Poythress Monday afternoon and with freshmen guard twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison Tuesday.
The Harrison twins have also gotten first-round mentions, particularly after both matured during the tournament with Aaron winning two games with clutch 3-pointers in the final seconds against Michigan and Wisconsin.
James Young became the first to announce that he will enter the NBA draft, leaving the twin guards to decide if they will follow him as speculated or return for another season.
Willie Cauley-Stein announced that he would bypass the draft and return for his junior season.
Cauley-Stein's return potentially gives the Wildcats several big men if 7-footer Dakari Johnson stays along with 6-11 Marcus Lee (who's also back) and recruits Karl Towns (6-11 and growing) and 6-10 Trey Lyles.
Calipari and Kentucky's fervent fan base now wait to see if the Harrisons follow suit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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