LEXINGTON, Ky. — In they come, out they go.
One year still seems so short.
We are used to this, of course. In John Calipari’s five years as Kentucky’s head basketball coach, 12 of his players have now put in their one season before moving on to the NBA.
Calipari is re-branding this as a “succeed and proceed” scenario. The rest of the world refers to it as “one-and-done.”
This is not to in any way knock No. 12, Julius Randle, the UK forward who after completing his freshman season announced Tuesday he is placing his name into the NBA Draft.
No surprise there. The mock drafts project Randle as a certain top-10, possible top-five pick. No one can criticize Randle’s career path.
We just wish we could have gotten to know him better. And longer. He seemed like a fine young man with a great support group.
The basketball world now knows his mother after Carolyn Kyles was forced to leave the Midwest Region finals at halftime to catch a plane back to Texas to be at work the next morning.
He has a great role model and hoops mentor in Jeff Webster, the former Oklahoma basketball player. He has a terrific benefactor in Kenny Troutt, the WinStar Farm owner who financed Randle’s AAU team back in Texas and was on hand for Tuesday’s announcement.
In our one year together, Randle was never arrogant or cocky. At times he appeared weary of the constant media attention, but what 19-year-old wouldn’t grow tired of answering questions from prying adults with cameras and tape recorders and iPads.
The Texas native also had to tire of the constant double- and triple-teams brought by college defenses. It would have been fun to watch Randle further develop the skills necessary to burn such schemes.
That’s the thing with Randle. Even with his 24 double-doubles, we only saw a shadow of the player he can ultimately become. He can/must develop a perimeter game. He can/will continue to improve as a passer. He has the tools to be a better defender.
Randle used the term “adversity” several times Tuesday. He wasn’t referring to injuries or illness. He meant the team’s nine regular-season losses before UK’s deep post-season run. He meant the scrutiny and criticism that came when the team wasn’t living up to the excessive expectations.