The Los Angeles Lakers introduced Julius Randle to the media Monday morning. (Elisa Hernandez/Living Out Loud LA)
The Los Angeles Lakers introduced their first-round pick to the media during a press conference Monday morning. (Elisa Hernandez/Living Out Loud LA)
It’s official. The Los Angeles Lakers have introduced first-round draft pick Julius Randle to the media during an introductory press conference Monday morning at their practice facility in El Segundo. The Lakers drafted the 6-foot-9 power forward out of Kentucky with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Despite being a Dallas, Texas native, coming to play in Los Angeles was more of a homecoming for Randle.
“As a kid, I always grew up a Lakers fan,” Randle said. “I felt humbled to be in the position that I was, to be able to work out for the Lakers. … It just felt like the right place for me.”
Despite playing only one year with the Kentucky Wildcats, Randle started in all 40 games and led the team with 15 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. During his freshman year, Randle set the UK single-season records in rebounding (417), double-doubles (24) and made free throws (204).
His success in basketball seems to be no surprise, as Randle is following in his mother’s footsteps. Carolyn Kyles played basketball throughout her youth as well as at the University of Texas, Arlington. Little did she know that her path would be carried on by her son.
When the Lakers introduced Randle, he held up a No. 30 Lakers jersey – the same number he wore in college and originally borrowed from his mother.
“[She said,] ‘If you’re going to wear it, you’ve got to do something with it,'” Randall said. “Playing for the Lakers, I guess I’ve [done] something.”
Randle recalled the memory of walking into the kitchen and asking his mother for permission to use her number. It was a moment she remembered vividly.
“He just came out of the blue one day and asked me for my [jersey] number,” said Kyles. “I feel very honored. I just feel emotional that he wanted me to be a part of him on that floor and carry on our number.”
However, Randle has a lot of work ahead of him. Although the Lakers have a pretty open roster he knows earning a starting spot won’t be easy.
“[It’s] something that you have to earn,” he said. “I think that I can come in and contribute right away. It’s just all going to depend on my work ethic, my willingness to put the time into the gym. I think the results will show if I do that.”
It’s still unsure if Randle will play in the 2014 NBA Summer League, but he is ready either way. One thing he may not be ready for is the expectations Kobe Bryant may have set for him.
“I’ve been warned,” said Randle with a laugh. “I’ve been told he can push his teammates.”
That push is warranted, as Bryant has been a key asset to the Lakers success since his career started in 1996. Bryant’s goal is to win, a goal that seems to line up with Randle’s.
“[I want to] win a lot of championships and reach my full potential, “said Randle. “I hate to lose. It’s one of my biggest motivations.”
Bryant has already reached out to Randle via text and took to Twitter to welcome the rookie to Los Angeles.
“Welcome home Julius Randle from one legendary institution to one epic franchise #LakersDraft,” tweeted Bryant following the Lakers’ selection of Randle.
Drafting a top 10 pick was only the beginning for the Lakers ,as they gear up for a coaching search, free agency and rebuilding the team. However, even though the Lakers still don’t have a head coach, Randle is not concerned.
“It’s such a winning organization, I trust everything they do. I’m not really worried about that. I know it will be the right coach,” Randle said.
As the questions died down and the media session concluded, Randle’s final thoughts sent a clear message: “I think I can do a lot to help the Lakers win.”
Randle joins the squad alongside another Laker rookie, Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson was selected as the 46th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards, but was later acquired by Los Angeles.
The 6-foot5 point guard from Missouri spent one season with the Tigers and was named to the Second Team All-SEC by the coaches.
“[I am] excited to get the opportunity to come to L.A. and play for the Lakers organization,” said Clarkson during a phone conference with the media. “I’ve been a fan of Kobe and watched him a lot growing up.”
Now it’s time for both of these rookies to stop watching and start doing. These rookies better gear up for the ride of their lives.
Welcome to the LakeShow. Welcome to L.A.