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Randle, Young go from tradition to tradition on draft night

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Julius Randle and James Young were chosen with the No. 7 and 17 picks in the NBA Draft, respectively, on Thursday night. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Julius Randle and James Young were chosen with the No. 7 and 17 picks in the NBA Draft, respectively, on Thursday night. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Julius Randle smiled when he heard his name called.

He dished out hugs to his mother, his mentor and his head coach as he walked to the podium. He looked the part of a happy draftee when he shook hands with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

It wasn't until ESPN analyst Jay Williams asked Randle whether he thought he should have been selected earlier than No. 7 overall that he admitted to another emotion.

"I think I should have went higher for sure, but the teams that passed on me will regret it," Randle said.

It wasn't pride or false bravado that made Randle feel that way either. The newest Los Angeles Laker and UK's ninth lottery pick in the last five years simply believed he was the best player in the 2014 NBA Draft and plans to prove it.

Don't think mistake Randle's drive for bitterness though. He's happy to become a Laker.

"I was offered some great advice before this: It's not where you start; it's where you finish," Randle said. "And L.A.' s a perfect spot for me. I'm really happy to be going there."

When Randle's name was called, John Calipari was heard on the ESPN broadcast telling Randle Los Angeles is exactly where he hoped the bruising forward who led UK to the national championship game as a freshman would go.

"I get to go play in a great city, a great franchise that expects nothing but championships, great market, great organization," Randle said. "And Kobe Bryant, my idol growing up. So I couldn't be more ecstatic about where I'm going."

Similarly, the Lakers were elated when the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Randle -- who averaged 15 points and 10.4 rebounds in his lone UK season -- was still available.

"We had him on our board much better than a No. 7 selection, so we were surprised when he was there," Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. "When we do the draft, we rank according to what we think is going to be the best player going forward. So he was the best player on the board. We didn't think he'd be there. He's a player that will bode well in Los Angeles. He competes hard. He plays hard. He loves contact. Great kid. Those are attributes that anybody would love to have on an NBA team."

As Bryant, Randle's idol, mentioned soon after the Lakers' selection on Twitter, Randle goes from the school with the most tradition in college basketball to a professional franchise with comparable tradition.

James Young, Randle's teammate, will make a similar transition. Ten picks after Randle went off the board, the athletic swingman was tabbed by the Boston Celtics with the No. 17 overall pick, where he will join fellow former Wildcats Rajon Rondo and Keith Bogans.

"The Lakers (and) Celtics are the (two) most storied programs in the NBA (and) our guys are headed to both," Coach Cal tweeted. "What could be better?"

In the Green Room with Randle and Calipari, Young was excited when he learned he was Boston-bound.

"I'm very excited to be drafted by this organization and I can't wait to get started," Young said according to the Louisville Courier-Journal's Kyle Tucker. "It's been a long time coming."

With Randle and Young's selection, UK has now had multiple first-round selections in all five years of the Calipari era. Since the draft went to two rounds in 1989, UK is the only program to accomplish the feat. All told, UK has had two No. 1 picks, 15 first-round picks and 19 total players selected in the NBA Draft during Coach Cal's time in Lexington and 110 in the history of the program.

Succeed and Proceed indeed.

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