Randle maintains strong connection with Lexington community through skills camp


Kentucky Wildcats forward Julius Randle (30) and Kentucky Wildcats center Dakari Johnson (44) celebrate after head coach John Calipari puts second string players in with one minute left to play at UK men’s basketball vs. Georgia at the SEC Tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga., on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Kentucky defeated Georgia 70-58. Photo by Emily Wuetcher

Chase Campbell

Julius Randle, forward for the Los Angeles Lakers and former Cat, hosted his annual basketball skills camp Saturday in Memorial Coliseum.

Before the camp, Randle sat down with news media to talk about his continued love and devotion for the Lexington community. He said that “the community and the relationships” were what he missed most about being a Cat, and that he always wants to come back whenever he gets a chance, especially to help young athletes.

“Growing up, I didn’t have a chance to do this with a professional so I take it very seriously.” said Randle. He said that he will do whatever he needs to do at these camps to make sure the kids have an enjoyable experience, including blocking a shot or two.

Randle, now a father himself, also said that it makes him appreciate the relationship between a parent and a child at these events as well. He said that he always appreciates the parents coming to the camps with their child and spending that time with them.

Quickly, the conversation turned to Randle’s life in Los Angeles, including his hatred of the California traffic and the upcoming NBA season. He said this is the best he’s felt in “four or five years,” and that he’s constantly working to improve on a young Lakers team.

He also got a chance to weigh in on the rivalry between former Cat and current Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox and former UCLA guard Lonzo Ball. Ball was drafted by the Lakers, so Randle has picked his side in the feud.

“My point guard is Lonzo. I’m excited to play with him, excited to you know build chemistry with him through the season. Obviously, De’Aaron is going to have a great career,” he said.

No matter who his point guard is, Randle will always see himself as a part of UK’s community.

“I committed to a family. Coach [John Calipari] and I still have a great relationship,” Randle said.

He also maintains contact with his former teammates on the 2013-14 UK team.

“I actually FaceTimed with Dakari yesterday,” he said.

He also maintains contact with former Cats Willie Cauley-Stein and the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron.

Randle, who is also set to be married in a couple weeks, joked with journalists, saying that Coach Calipari’s wedding present “better be something good,” for all the yelling, but also said that Coach Calipari changed his life, and that he was happy to have a personal version of the Hall of Fame coach’s narrative, as well as the community’s.