BOZICH | Lakers-Celtics rivalry adds Kentucky flavor
The Lakers have decided to rebuild with former Kentucky star Julius Randle while Indiana's Noah Vonleh will join former Hoosier Cody Zeller in Charlotte.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Los Angeles Lakers need a player to market in Hollywood as they transition from the Kobe Bryant Era. Somebody to put on billboards and make certain the Clippers don't take control of the town. Somebody with a five-star smile and spin move.
The guy they selected is former Kentucky star Julius Randle.
The Lakers made that call with the seventh overall pick in the NBA Draft Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Randle is the 13th Kentucky player to be taken in the first round in the last five seasons, the seventh guy taken in the top 10. The Lakers finished 27-55 last season, so Randle should report directly to the starting lineup. Randle's former teammate, James Young, became the 14th when the Celtics selected him with the 17th pick.
"He’s a monster on the glass, a double-double machine,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said of Randle, who delivered 24 double-doubles as Kentucky advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Tournament last season.
ESPN analyst Jay Williams asked Randle if he thought he should have been selected higher.
“Yeah,” Randle said. “I think I should have went higher for us. But I’m not worried about it. L.A. is a perfect spot for me.”
Four other freshmen were taken ahead of Randle – Andrew Wiggins of Kansas, first to Cleveland; Jabari Parker of Duke, second to Milwaukee; Joel Embiid of Kansas third to Philadelphia and Aaron Gordon of Arizona fourth to Orlando.
Utah took Dante Exum, an Australian fifth. Then Oklahoma State sophomore Marcus Smart was selected sixth by the Boston Celtics.
Former Indiana star Noah Vonleh was selected two spots behind Randle by the Charlotte Hornets. That was an interesting pick, considering that last season the Hornets selected another former IU star, Cody Zeller, who also plays power forward.
“Julius Randle is another guy in a perfect spot,” ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said on Twitter. “He has to play early and put up big numbers on a rebuilding team. His motor will get the job done.”
"We had him on our board as much better than the number seven selection," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told ESPN.
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