It wasn't the 2012 national championship game, but Julius Randle's recruitment came down to Kansas and Kentucky.
Randle played it close to the vest throughout his recruitment, with different schools seemingly in the lead at different times.
On Wednesday, Randle ended the suspense – choosing Kentucky, with Kansas, Texas and Florida missing out. North Carolina State and Oklahoma were recently cut from his list.
Randle, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas), is one of the most difficult players in the country for a defense to match up with. The lefty can handle the ball better than most players his size, as he knows how to go off the bounce and take it to the rim and finish. Moreover, he improved his stroke to the point where he can consistently knock down jumpers. Inside, Randle uses his strength and finishing ability to essentially dominate on the low block. When he is able to get position near the rim, you might as well count two points.
Kentucky already had the top recruiting class in the country, and Randle's commitment perhaps vaults the Wildcats into the greatest recruiting class of all time. Andrew and Aaron Harrison are arguably the two best guards in the country, while Dakari Johnson and James Young are also top-10 overall prospects in the class of 2013. Throw in Marcus Lee, whom many consider a five-star talent, and John Calipari has reloaded once again.
Despite all the talent on the roster, Randle should undoubtedly make an immediate impact next season. Right now, the Wildcats are losing Julius Mays and likely Nerlens Noel -- but who else is gone? Will Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress stay? What about Willie Cauley-Stein? And is Ryan Harrow planning to transfer?
The roster could be in flux over the next few weeks, but one thing is clear: Kentucky has a need for toughness and Randle will bring that trait.
Moreover, playing with an elite point guard like Andrew Harrison can only help Randle get easy buckets around the rim. Randle is already capable of getting his own shot, but Harrison -- and his brother -- getting into the lane drawing the defense will mean Randle might not have the complete attention of the defense. And how often can you say that about a top-five prospect.
Kentucky rarely loses on the recruiting trail. Despite the mystery until the final minutes, the same happened on Wednesday.
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