By LARRY VAUGHT
In the last 20 years I’ve thought the two most underrated basketball players at Kentucky have been Keith Bogans and Julius Randle.
In four years at UK, Bogans played in 135 games and had 1,923 points, 553 rebounds and 314 assists. He played in 671 NBA games from 2003-2014.
Randle can’t match those numbers because he was just at UK one year but he averaged 15 points and 10.4 rebounds per game during the 2013-14 season when the Cats made an improbable run to the national title game. He was SEC Freshman of the Year and his 417 rebounds are the most ever by a Kentucky freshman and the most by any player in one season that Calipari has had at UK. He also had a remarkable 24 double-doubles that season.
Recently Andy Katz of NCAA.com ranked Randle as his No. 1 athlete on NCAA runner-ups of the last decade.
“Julius Randle was such a beast physically and could just go get a rebound and guard multiple positions,” Calipari told Katz on the March Madness 365 podcast when asked about the best defenders he’s had at UK.
But when he talked about the best rebounders, Calipari didn’t mention Randle. Instead, he rattled off DeMarcus Cousins, Terrence Jones, Nerlens Noel, Anthony Davis, Karl Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles, Dakari Johnson and eve Nick Richards. None of those had the season rebounding the ball like Randle did when he helped carry UK’s freshman-dominated team to the 2014 Final Four.
Randle was chosen with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers and spent four years there before playing one season in New Orleans. He’s now with the New York Knicks and averaged 19.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game this year.