As he went through an individual workout with the Lakers, Julius Randle had to handle questions that went beyond anything a skills test or a series of drills could measure.
Does his right foot feel fully healthy?
“Did it look it?” Randle asked, rhetorically after showing off his accuracy in a series of shooting drills in front of reporters. “There you go.”
Yet, multiple Yahoo and ESPN reports indicated that several NBA teams were concerned with Randle’s right foot and suspected that it would need surgery. That concern stemmed from Randle breaking his right foot in the second game of his senior season at Prestonwood Christian Academy in Texas. A screw was inserted into the foot.
Randle maintained that he both will not need to have surgery. He plans to play in the Las Vegas Summer League, scheduled from July 11-21. Randle also believes unspecified NBA teams leaked their concerns about his foot in hopes that his draft stock would drop so he would become available. That might benefit the Lakers, who have the seventh overall pick for the NBA Draft on June 26.
“I met with the best foot doctor in the country and he said he wouldn’t do anything with my foot,” Randle said. “There’s no scheduled surgery or anything. I feel healthy, athletic and am moving great. No problems recovering. I’m ready to go.”
The Lakers also reported there were no medical tests that suggested his foot was an issue. Lakers development coach Mark Madsen said “Julius looks 100 percent to me” after defending Randle in post-up drills. Another Lakers source also gushed about Randle’s versatility and considered him more seasoned at power forward than Arizona forward Aaron Gordon and Indiana forward Noah Vonleh, both of whom worked out with the Lakers earlier this month.
Randle marked the lone prospect to work out with the Lakers. That serves as a stark contrast to the Lakers’ first workout when they featured 12 prospects competing in a series of two on two and three on three drills against each other, including Vonleh, Gordon, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis and UCLA’s Zach LaVine. The Lakers also plan to have another workout on Friday, though they have not finalized their prospect list.
“There’s no reason for me to go up against anybody,” Randle said. “They’ve seen me all year. The team’s biggest thing is they want to see my skill. They don’t want to see me bang. I have had the longest college season out of anybody. I don’t think teams want to see me bang. They want to see my skill level.”
Randle wanted to prove that his game went beyond posting a nation-leading 24 double doubles and playing a bruising game that many liken to Memphis forward Zach Randolph. Randle appeared noticeably slim and reported trimming down between four to six percent body fat. Randle downplayed his defensive deficiencies, mentioning his lone season at Kentucky marked the first season he was held accountable. Randle also showcased a pretty dependable shooting touch on mid-range jumpers and three-pointers.
“When you play with that much talent and that many guys, you’re going to have to sacrifice,” Randle said. “You sacrifice a little bit of your game. I’m not worried about it. I can get back to some of the things that I do. Coach [Calipari] did a great job of using me. It’s not about offense. He challenged me in other areas that I think will help me tremendously at the next level.”
So much that Randle proudly boasted where he ranked in this year’s draft class.
“I feel like I’m the best one,” Randle said. “I don’t put myself second to anybody. That’s my attitude on the floor and my attitude when I compete. It’s how I was raised to be.”
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