The moment Julius Randle finds out which NBA lottery team chooses him, he will officially represent part of a trend in which college basketball players enter the professional ranks as a so-called “one and done.”
Randle and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver may shake each other’s hands and offer the usual pleasantries once that happens during the NBA Draft on June 26. But the two share philosophical differences on an important issue. Silver has said he wants to increase the age limit for players to enter the league from 19 to 20, while Randle argued otherwise.
“I think everybody should have free choice, whether it’s high school, college, four years of college,” Randle said Tuesday after his pre-draft workout with the Lakers at their practice facility in El Segundo. “Who is going to tell the kid when he’s ready? So I think everybody should have a free choice. But I know the Commissioner and he’s done a great job so far, and I think he’ll do what’s best for the league.”
Silver has plenty on his plate in his first four months as NBA commissioner, most notably issuing embattled Clippers owner Donald Sterling a life-time ban for making racially offensive remarks on a leaked audio tape. But ever since All-Star weekend in February, Silver has talked publicly about raising the league’s minimum age.
Randle does not have to worry over such an initiative affecting him. The NBA players association has to agree with the stance, and negotiations have not started since the players union has not had an executive director since Billy Hunter was removed in February 2013. The current collective bargaining agreement also will not expire until after the 2020-21 season, though both the NBA and players union could opt out of the constructed labor deal following the 2016-17 campaign.
Randle played for Kentucky coach John Calipari, who has cemented his five years with the Wildcats embracing the so-called one-and-done rule. Yet, Randle maintains he did not try to follow that path consciously.
“My biggest thing was I wanted to be a college student and enjoy college,” Randle said. “I loved Kentucky. Of course, you’re going to love the basketball. But just the state, the people, my academics, I loved it. I miss it, of course, seeing everybody go back to school. I just kind of miss that brotherhood that I had with those guys. But I knew that the next step was what’s best for me and my family.”