Day Four of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is just about to begin, Boston Celtics fans, so I hope you’re ready for a great day of college hoops!
There will be plenty of great young talent on the hardwood today, but there is one player in particular that I will be watching: Julius Randle, of the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
Randle is one of four college freshman whose hype overshadowed pretty everything else as the 2013-2014 NCAA season began. As a huge UK hoops fan, I was excited by the possibilities that this year’s team offered, but so far, the young Wildcats have failed to live up to expectations. Whether that’s fair or not can be debated, but it’s reality, and reality bites.
Randle is the perfect example of how Kentucky’s squad has under-performed. Dominant early – he averaged 20.8 PPG in his first five games, including a 27 point, 13 rebound effort against Michigan State – Randle hit a bit of a wall come January, and flat-out didn’t show up for some games (8 and 6 points against LSU this season, and only 4 points in the SEC Championship game against Florida). Again, I know he’s only a freshman, but for someone who is supposed to be a top-4 pick, NBA teams are certainly going to be wary about someone who is so up-and-down.
The good news for Randle fans is that he has definitely shown up for the Big Dance so far. In Friday’s 8-9 match between UK and Kansas State, Randle was a human wrecking ball. He led all players with 19 points and 15 rebounds, and was huge when the Wildcats needed him to be in the second half. Randle scored seven straight for UK after K-State had cut Kentucky’s lead to 8, and reminded everyone why NBA scouts were drooling over his potential before the season even began.
Randle and the Wildcats face a huge challenge today, as they take on the undefeated Wichita State Shockers are 2:45. The Shockers are 35-0 and appear to be destiny’s child this year. If Randle can channel the beast inside him and lead UK to the “upset” victory, his stock will absolutely soar through the roof. While the Boston Celtics’ chances of drafting Randle seem slim at this point, he is too good to ignore, so he is the prospect I will be keying in on today (and yes, the fact that Kansas’ Joel Embiid will not be playing today factored into this decision).
Who will you be watching today? Comment below, or throw me your thoughts @HoudiniCeltics!