High School: Julius Randle

Randle's team wins matchup of top two recruits

May, 28, 2012
ESPNHS senior editor Ronnie Flores covered Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League stop in Hayward, Calif., over the weekend, an event that included Plano Prestonwood Christian star Julius Randle.

Randle, the nation's No. 2 recruit for the Class of 2013 according to the ESPN 100, and his Team Texas Titans faced Mac Irvin Fire on Sunday night. Mac Irvin Fire is led by Chicago Simeon's Jabari Parker, the nation's top-ranked recruit.

Here is Flores' coverage of the No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup:
On Sunday night, Parker's Mac Irvin Fire squad took on Randle's Team Texas Titans in front of a standing-room-only crowd. The intensity matched the hype, as both teams played within the team concept. Team Texas Titans jumped out to an early double-digit lead (18-8), but Mac Irvin Fire bounced back and kept it close before falling 63-59.

The main difference in the game wasn't the individual play of the two stars, but perimeter shooting. Mac Irvin Fire missed all 16 of its 3-point attempts, while Team Texas Titans made 7-of-13.

Parker, the No. 1 player in the ESPN 100 and a recent Sports Illustrated cover subject, made 6-of-14 field goal attempts (0-of-5 from 3-point range) and captured five rebounds, two assists and 14 points.

Randle, ranked No. 2 in the ESPN 100, made 6-of-10 field goal attempts (0-of-3 on 3-pointers) and had 13 rebounds and 23 points.

You can find more coverage of the tournament here.

Julius Randle leads area in recruiting rankings

May, 25, 2012

The new basketball recruiting season officially started this week when ESPN Recruiting Nation released its annual prospect rankings.

Plano Prestonwood Christian forward Julius Randle becomes the area's most coveted recruited, checking in at No. 2 in the nation on the 2013 ESPN 100 list.

Randle is joined in the top 10 by Dallas Kimball guard Keith Frazier, who checks in at No. 9.

Four other DFW players cracked the ESPN 100: 19. DeSoto guard Matt Jones; 28. Arlington Grace Prep center Karviar Shepherd; 41. Arlington Grace Prep forward Jordan Mickey; and 93. Richardson Berkner guard Kendal Harris.

Jones, who is committed to Duke, is the only ranked area player who has made his college choice.

Grace Prep's prime talent isn't limited to its senior class. Guard Emmanuel Mudiay is No. 5 on the 2104 ESPN 60 list. One other area player is on the ESPN 60: Garland Lakeview Centennial center Elbert Robinson at No. 59.

Two players who will be sophomores next year are on the 2015 ESPN 25 list. Prestonwood Christian forward Mickey Mitchell is No. 2, and Rockwall forward Elijah Thomas is No. 22.

Who do you think you are: Julius Randle

May, 2, 2012
Julius Randle and Billy OwensKelly Kline and AP Photo/Duane BurlesonWe compare class of 2013 power forward Julius Randle, left, to Billy Owens, former NBA and Syracuse forward from Carlisle High School (Pa.), class of 1988.

This summer, ESPNHS will sit down with some of the nation's elite players to break down their game, talk about the inevitable comparisons to college and pro players and get their take on who they pattern their game after.

Player: Julius Randle
School: Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas)
Position: Power forward
Height/weight: 6-9/225
ESPN 60: No. 2

Who is Julius Randle?

The left-handed combo forward has been one of the top players nationally in the 2013 class since middle school. Randle delivers as a high school player, leading Prestonwood to consecutive Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Class 5A state crowns. As a junior, he put his school in the national spotlight by leading the team to the title at the prestigious City of Palms Classic, where he earned MVP honors. For the season, the second team ESPNHS All-American averaged 21.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists a game while shooting 65.2 percent from the floor. Next season, Randle will have a good shot to become Texas' first Mr. Basketball USA selection since Rashard Lewis of Elsik (Houston) in 1998.

Scouting report

According to ESPN RecruitingNation, Randle is a pro in the making. He can drive going in either direction, has touch around the rim, but can also powerfully finish with contact. Randle has range, but is prone to being streaky from the outside. In a nutshell, he can dominate smaller players inside and is too athletic for post players to handle. When he is on, like he was during stretches of the 2011 Nike EYBL, Randle has the look of a top 10 to 15 prospect of the past decade.

Most frequent comparisons: Marvin Williams, Caron Butler, Billy Owens

ESPNHS comparison: Billy Owens

There are great similarities between Randle and the former Syracuse and Carlisle (Pa.) All-American who spent 10 years in the NBA. Owens, also proficient with his left-hand, was a top 5 prospect in 1988 and led his high school team to multiple state championships. Owens was powerfully built and a huge matchup problem on the high school and college level. He wasn't nearly as powerful as Randle, but high school players 25 years ago didn't have NBA-ready bodies nearly as often as they do today. What Owens did possess was an overall feel for the game that made teammates better and passing abilities that are rare for a 6-foot-8 player. Randle won't necessarily pick up those same traits if he doesn't already have them, but if he can learn to stay locked-in for a complete game instead of stretches, the sky is the limit.

Julius' comparison: LeBron James

Since Billy Owens was in his prime before Randle was born, naturally he doesn't really know anything about Carlisle's most famous athlete next to Jim Thorpe. Ever the student, Randle said he's "going to look him up to see what he's about."

Randle is a classic inside-out player who national scouts love because of his ability as an offensive threat across the entire floor, so he found it difficult to compare himself to one player. He does, however, have an affinity for the current Miami Heat star.

"I don't know if I can compare my game to just one player because I think I'm a mixture of players," Randle said. "On the perimeter, I use my speed, strength and handle sort of like LeBron to get where I want on the floor. I'm also able to make plays for my teammates."

Randle knows where his "money" is, too.

"In the post, I have moves also, so I would say I'm sort of like Amar'e Stoudemire or Zach Randolph, but more explosive."

The Prestonwood Christian standout is working hard to expand his game and incorporate some of the moves of his favorite player -- Kobe Bryant.

"Right now, I'm working on being a better defender and also my in-between game like pull-ups. So I watch a lot of Melo (Carmelo Anthony) and also my favorite player Kobe to see how they create space."

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN

Smart named ESPNHS first-team All-American

April, 18, 2012
Marcus Smart's basketball-playing days at Flower Mound Marcus are done, but he hasn't stopped earning honors.

The Oklahoma State-bound senior guard was selected to the ESPNHS All-American first team Wednesday.

Smart, who led the Marauders to a second consecutive Class 5A state championship, had previously been named the Texas Gatorade Player of the Year and a McDonald's All-American.

Two area players from private school powers were named to the ESPNHS All-American second team: Plano Prestonwood Christian junior forward Julius Randle and Arlington Grace Prep senior center Isaiah Austin.

Randle helped Prestonwood win the TAPPS 5A state championship to cap a season during which the Lions won the prestigious City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.

Austin, a Baylor recruit, led Grace Prep to its second straight TAPPS 4A title and joined Smart at the McDonald's All-American game.

Find more on the ESPNHS All-American team.

Fans' Choice: Rodney Purvis vs. Julius Randle

March, 1, 2012
Back in November, the first ESPNHS Fans' Choice Player of the Year award was launched with eight of the nation's top players in the running for the honor. Well, it's down to the final two candidates, so it's time for fans to really make the vote count.

Wolfpack nation spoke up in the semifinals to help senior Rodney Purvis of upper Room Christian (Raleigh, N.C.) coast by Nerlens Noel, while Plano Prestonwood junior Julius Randle got an assist from his fans in Dallas-Fort Worth to take down Shabazz Muhammad.

The two good friends provide a quick update on their seasons.

Oak Hill (Va.) neutralizes Randle, Prestonwood

January, 14, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Plano Prestonwood's Julius Randle drew the first pop from the crowd in the marquee matchup of the third day of the Hoophall Classic, landing a violent windmill dunk in layup lines to the approval of the capacity crowd.

[+] EnlargeJulius Randle
J Anthony Roberts/ESPNHSNo. 3 recruit Julius Randle returned to action on Feb. 15 and is nearing a decision date.
A few momets later, in the first minute of action, Oak Hill Academy (Va.) big man A.J. Hammons got the next pop, dunking over the nation's top junior power forward with both hands. He added insult to injury with a big two-handed shove to Randle's chest.

From that point, it was on. Both Randle and the 7-foot Purdue commit had their moments, but in the end it was Oak Hill prevailing once again, 85-55, after some lights-out shooting by guards Jordan Adams (23 points), Tyler Lewis (15 points, nine assists) and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (16 points) opened up the floodgates. The three combined for 10 3's, including a 5-of-7 effort from Adams, to blow this open.

In total, Oak Hill, which moves to 27-0, was 13 of 25 from deep. Prestonwood fell to 15-4.

"I thought we could have competed a little better," Prestonwood coach Chris Mayberry said. "But the way they shot tonight, you know, 13 of 25, I think they're the best team in the country today for sure, the way they play. I thought we could've competed a little better, but they're also really good. You've got to give them credit."

In the fourth quarter, with the Lions down by more than 20, Randle impressed the crowd with three powerful one-handed slams in transition. But the first half was a whole other story.

The game featured plenty of length, with Kansas commit Zach Peters and 6-7 freshman Mickey Mitchell joining the 6-9 Randle in the frontcourt, paired off against Hammons and the Warriors' 6-6 Charlotte commit, Darion Clark. Those long arms played a big part of the opening minutes, with the Lions struggling to get good looks inside of 15 feet thanks to a stifling mix of 3-2 and 2-3 zone looks.

In one possession, Hammons swatted Peters going to his right, and when Randle missed a close-range floater on the follow-up, he found himself boxed out by Hammons' outstretched arms. On an ensuing possesson, Randle managed to cross up Hammons, only to be stuffed by Clark as he drove to his left.

There were promising rotations on Prestonwood's end, such as when Mitchell sent Georgetown-bound guard Smith-Rivera's layup attempt into the crowd under the baseline. But too often in the first half, it seemed, the Lions seemed to receive two uppercuts for each jab they dealt.

Earlier this week, Randle told ESPNHS in his periodical "Player Diary" that he was going to hand the undefeated Warriors their first loss. That seemed to motivate Hammons, who combined with Clark to hold the sought-after big man to a 4-of-13 effort from the field in the first half. Randle finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and three blocks -- but it felt as if he earned every single tally.

"I just tried to attack his body," Randle said of Hammons. "He's a big guy, so I wanted to try and attack his body. I wasn't frustrated, I knew the ball would go into the hole at some time, so I wasn't worried.

"They overloaded my side, so I just had to look and find my teammates better."

Acknowledging Randle is a step quicker, Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said he was hoping Randle would make a few jump shots early and settle there, "because he's hard to play inside". But the combination of Hammons (eight rebounds, three blocks) and Clark (10 points, six rebounds) was frustrating enough.

"He [Randle] likes to float sometimes," Smith said. "We just tried to mix it up ... we tried to keep him away from the basket, when he did catch it down low we'd try and send a guy to double-team. We had some size -- he's not used to getting his shot blocked, I don't think, and that messed with his head a little bit. I think we blocked his shot three or four times in the first half, and that seemed to fluster him a bit."

Oak Hill led 22-8 after one quarter, and 39-24 at the half. The Lions were held to 32.1 percent shooting from the floor in that first half, including just a 4-for-13 effort from the floor by Randle. The Lions finished 38.6 from the floor for the game, but were outrebounded 42-25.

Prestonwood's Randle visits Duke, UNC, NC St.

January, 9, 2012
Prestonwood Christian forward Julius Randle has been keeping a diary for ESPNHS.com, and today's entry is a doozy.

After Prestonwood's recent trip to South Carolina for the Beach Ball Classic, Randle dropped in on a couple of his biggest fans, North Carolina coach Roy Williams and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. He also sat down with North Carolina State and coach Mark Gottfried.

Randle, No. 3 in the ESPNU 60 national rankings for Class of 2013 recruits, took in a North Carolina game and a Duke game on the same day. He was wooed by fans at both schools, but seemed especially impressed with Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium.
That place wasn’t just packed, it was sold out. Of course their place is smaller, but that place is just crazy.

If I had to compare the environments, I’d have to say that Cameron is the most live. It’s so true what people say about that place and this is with the students not even being there. It was just insane. It’s another level. They chanted my name so loud and their fans knew all about me. I was just like wow.

After the game I got the chance to sit down with Coach K again and we had a long talk. He gave me so many things to think about like getting lower and wider in my stance and being in great -- not good -- shape and how much that could help me.

He showed me clips of LeBron James when he was with Team USA and how they worked with him on getting lower and how much that helped him. I have started using that these past couple games, and I can already tell the difference in how I’m playing.

Randle didn't tip his hand on which way he's leaning, however, and says he's looking forward to visiting Ohio State and Kentucky.

Randle and Prestonwood are traveling again this weekend, heading to Springfield, Mass., for the Hoophall Classic. Prestonwood will have a tough task against Virgina powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, which is unbeaten and ranked No. 2 nationally in the most recent ESPNHS POWERADE Top 50.

Austin leads Arl. Grace Prep past Prestonwood

December, 16, 2011

LEWISVILLE, Texas -- Want a formula for ending a game against the No. 42 team in the nation?

Ask Arlington Grace Prep forward Isaiah Austin to whip one up.

[+] EnlargeIsaiah Austin
Travis L. Brown for ESPNDallas.com Isaiah Austin scored a game-high 18 points for Alrington Grace Prep against Prestonwood Christian.
The future Baylor Bear threw down two monstrous dunks on national TV to take back any momentum Julius Randle and Plano Prestonwood had gathered in a 79-64 Grace Prep win Friday night on ESPNU.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Austin took an alley-oop dish from point guard Emmanuel Mudiay on a two-on-one and slammed it home to electrify a sold-out crowd at Lewisville High School.

“It gets you hype, especially when you make a big play and your fans go crazy," said Austin, who tied Mudiay with a game-high 18 points. "It’s a fun environment.”

Grace Prep started the game hot from outside, hitting four 3-pointers in the first half and numerous jumpers from distance.

Prestonwood’s man defense had to respect Grace Prep’s hot shooting, which opened up the lane for a constant flow of drives to the hole.

“They had to respect our jump shots,” Austin said. “We were just screening. All of our ball-handlers can drive and dish, so that’s what we did.”

It was a tough task against Randle, the No. 3 recruit for the class of 2013, and Kansas commit Zach Peters. Randle lead Prestonwood with 15 points.

Grace Prep finished the game with six 3-pointers, and Austin said his team didn't have any trouble ignoring the hype surrounding a nationally-televised game.

“We didn’t pay attention to it," Austin said. "We took every practice like a regular game. We just played our game.”

Prestonwood junior Randle's recruiting diary

September, 24, 2011
Plano Prestonwood junior forward Julius Randle has been doing a monthly diary for ESPN High School (formerly RISE).

In the latest entry, the third-ranked 2013 basketball recruit in the ESPNU Super 60 talks about the college coaches seeking his services and reveals the recipe for his three-cheese chicken pasta dish.

He also gives some insight into how conference realignment might impact his college choice:
It’s crazy how things are changing and hearing news about the different schools recruiting me potentially heading to different conferences. Of course the ACC is looking even stronger now with Pitt and Syracuse joining, and honestly that’s attractive to me because I am the type of player who wants to play with the best. I definitely would love to be a part of a super-conference so that is something I will absolutely look at in my recruitment.
Read the whole entry here.

Dallas' Titans take aim at AAA Super Showcase

July, 22, 2011
A slew of high school basketball players from the Metroplex will be taking part in the AAU Super Showcase -- an invitation-only event being held next week at ESPN's Wide World Of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

The Texas Titans, from Dallas, include center Prince Ibeh (Garland Naaman Forest), power forward Julius Randle (Prestonwood Christian), SG Matt Jones (DeSoto) and PG Marquan Botley (Prestonwood Chr.). ESPN Recruiting's Paul Biancardi believes the squad are among the teams to watch at the event.

Two Arlington Grace Prep players -- Baylor commit C Isaiah Austin and PG Emmanuel Mudiay -- will be competing with the Texas Pro team, which is based in Houston.

The Super Showcase, one of the marquee events of the summer, will feature two games broadcast on ESPNU -- Texas Pro (Houston) vs. Georgia Stars (Atlanta) on July 26 at 6 p.m.; and the Super Showcase championship on July 27 at 6 p.m.

For more on the event, click here.

Randle, Ibeh stand out at Nike Skills Academy

June, 27, 2011
Prestonwood Christian junior-to-be Julius Randle and Garland Naaman Forest senior Prince Ibeh both made quite an impression over the weekend at the Amare Stoudemire Nike Skills Academy in Chicago, according to ESPN Recruiting's Reggie Rankin and Paul Biancardi.

Randle was among the camp's top three scorers, prompting this analysis:
The athletic lefty plays in full attack mode in the post, from midrange and along the baseline. Randle has a great first step for a player his size and can initiate and score through contact with touch, body control or with a powerful above-the-rim finish. He plays with confidence, energy, urgency and he exposes defenders not ready to compete immediately.

Meanwhile, Ibeh, a 6-11 center, was among the top three defenders / shot blockers:
Ibeh grabs your attention right away with his 7-4 wingspan. He runs the floor pretty well and patrols the lane. He blocks shots in and out of his area and what he doesn't block, he changes. He has pretty good timing and puts forth good effort to get to the ball, whether its being shot from the lane or the perimeter. His tremendous length also allows him to recover beautifully from mistakes. His defense is far ahead of his offense and his upside is tremendous with added strength and improved production on the offensive end.

For more on the camp's standouts, click here.

Prestonwood Christian's Randle No. 1 in 2013

May, 24, 2011
ESPN Recruiting debuted its latest boys basketball recruiting rankings for the 2012-2014 classes, and a pair of area private school players are rated among the best of the best.

[+] EnlargeJulius Randle
Courtesy Prestonwood Christian AcademyTexas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Missouri are among the schools Prestonwood Christian's Julius Randle is considering. North Carolina, Kentucky, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Duke are also reportedly showing interest.
Prestonwood Christian power forward Julius Randle, who is uncommitted, is the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2013. Arlington Grace Prep center Isaiah Austin is No. 2 for 2012.

Small forward Marcus Smart, who led Flower Mound Marcus to the Class 5A state championship in March, is No. 40 in the Class 2012 rankings and remains uncommitted.

Joining Randle on the 2013 list are Irving guard Keith Frazier at No. 7 and DeSoto guard Matt Jones.

Austin, who has committed to Baylor, is among the players spotlighted in Mitch Sherman's look at how big men are dominating the 2012 rankings.

Paul Biancardi provides a scouting report for some of the top 2012 big men and had this to say about Austin:
Austin possesses a unique skill set, as he is a legitimate 7-footer with the skills of a wing player. He looks like a young Sam Bowie and has the skill package of a young Ralph Sampson. His enormous wing span makes him a rim protector, and his ball skills make him so versatile offensively. Once his body matures and accepts weight, he will be an even tougher matchup in the low post.

Here are links to the full ESPNU lists: 2012 Top 100, 2013 Top 60, 2014 Top 25.

PLANO, Texas - - To combat Prestonwood Christian Academy’s star 6-foot-8 power forward Zach Peters, opponents often send out a double or even triple team in hopes of controlling the Kansas recruit.

[+] EnlargeJulius Randle
Courtesy Prestonwood Christian AcademyJulius Randle has shown a knack for attacking the rim at JBC practices.
How does Prestonwood counter that defense? By working the ball over to the Lions' other star 6-foot-8 forward, sophomore Julius Randle.

Both big men are among the best in their recruiting classes, according to ESPNU. Peters is ranked No. 45 in the Super 60 of the Class of 2012 and Randle holds the top spot in the Terrific 25 for the class of 2013. The tandem has not only brought the national spotlight on themselves and their school, but on private school basketball in Texas.

“It’s very rare for a coach to be able to coach one player with the talent that those two guys have, and to be able to coach both of them is just a blessing for me,” Prestonwood head coach Brad Freeman said. “They do a great job when they work together. It’s very difficult for other teams to stop.”

Freeman said the Lions' game plan changed completely last year when Randle joined the varsity squad, taking the pressure off Peters. Randle found success cutting down the lane opposite the ball, creating a two-headed monster in the post that opponents could not defend.

This season, with Prestonwood’s two-man post game fully developed, Randle has gone from a freshman surprise to a court dominator, averaging a team-leading 24.6 points. Peters is next on the team, averaging 13. 7 points.

“We’re both great athletes.” Randle said. “We have good skill sets and we play off each other. When we’re both playing well, it’s pretty hard to beat our team. When we play off each other and we’re both encouraging each other, we do a pretty good job.”

[+] EnlargeZach Peters
Courtesy Prestonwood Christian AcademyJunior forward Zach Peters is committed to Kansas.
With his mind already set on Kansas, Peters said he is excited to be able to focus solely on developing his skill at the high school level and helping his team become a power in the area and nationally.

The Lions don't back down from any competition. They couldn't get past area public school powerhouses Dallas Lincoln and South Grand Prairie, but they made splashes in national tournaments, finishing fourth at the National Prep Classic in Santa Maria, Calif., and third at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

On Tuesday night, Prestonwood has a chance to avenge its only TAPPS District 1-5A loss of the season against Plano John Paul II.

Randle still has options to weight about where he will play after his time at Prestonwood is finished. He said he has not thought about what schools he would like to attend but he knows he wants to be surrounded by good character.

“I know I have to be able to trust the coach and trust that I know he’ll develop my talent and develop me as a person also,” Randle said.

Before moving on to the next level, the duo has plenty of games left to play together, a TAPPS Division I state title to defend and two top national tournaments next season -- the City of the Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., and the Beach Ball Classic -- to look forward to.

“You can’t get a better partner to play basketball with,” Peters said of Randle. “He’s just been awesome and we’re going to continue to get better and we’re going to have a lot of fun this year.”
Plano Prestonwood Christian finished fourth at the National Prep Classic boys basketball tournament in Santa Maria, Calif., which wrapped up Wednesday.

Prestonwood won its first two games before losing in the semifinals and the third-place game.

Joel Francisco of ESPN Recruiting recapped the event, and you can read his coverage here.

Prestonwood has two big-time recruits in Julius Randle and Zach Peters.

Francisco cited Randle as one of the tournament's standout players. Here's what he had to say about the nation's top-ranked sophomore:
There is no doubt that Randle is a force and he still has two-and-a-half more seasons of high school basketball. The explosive lefty loves to attack off the bounce and explode to the rim. He has great instincts while finishing up, over and around defenders. He can stick the 3-point shot or glide (covers a lot of ground in a hurry) in transition for the finish as well. In addition, he made a couple of high-level passes on the break as well. For his game to go to another level, he needs to finish better with contact, improve his back-to-the-basket skill set and make defense a priority.

Here's what Francisco had to say after watching Peters, who has verbally committed to Kansas:
Zach Peters, a 6-9 junior, can finish with space. However, he doesn't have good feet and as a result he struggled scoring with his back to the basket on numerous occasions.

Prestonwood playing for 3rd at national tourney

December, 22, 2010
Plano Prestonwood Christian will face Barrington (R.I.) St. Andrews tonight in the third-place game of the National Prep Classic boys basketball tournament.

Prestonwood lost, 66-47, to Long Beach (Calif.) Poly on Tuesday in the semifinals of the tournament in Santa Maria, Calif.

Julius Randle, ESPNU's top-ranked sophomore, scored 26 points in the loss. Prestonwood won its first two games at the tournament, which started Saturday.

Another Texas team, Houston's Christian Life, will face Long Beach Poly in tonight's championship game.