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Kentucky adds blue-chipper Julius Randle

DOWN GO VOLS: Daniel Coursey shoots over Jarnell Stokes in Mercer’s 75-67 win.

Associated Press

DOWN GO VOLS: Daniel Coursey shoots over Jarnell Stokes in Mercer’s 75-67 win.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Robert Morris is a thing of the past.

Julius Randle was the name on the lips of every Kentucky basketball fan Wednesday afternoon.

Not 24 hours removed from the Wildcats' NIT loss in Moon Township, Pa., one of the most sought-after recruits in the country who had Florida as a finalist, sat down at a table in Plano, Texas, and put on a blue and gray UK hat.

What was already being discussed as the No. 1 recruiting class of all time got stronger.

More help is on the way for John Calipari and the Cats.

"That's where it was in my heart. I wanted to be at Kentucky," Randle told those present at his high school gym and a nationwide audience watching live on ESPNU.

Randle, rated by some recruiting services as the No. 2 overall prospect in the country, became the sixth McDonald's All-American to commit to Kentucky's class of 2013.

The 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward joins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young, Derek Willis, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee in what many recruiting analysts were describing as the best class of all time.

Aaron Harrison Sr. — father of the Harrison twins — has coached against Randle since the newest Wildcat was 8 years old.

Harrison Sr. said he and his family get along great with Randle and his mother, Carolyn Kyles, who called Harrison Sr. less than an hour after the announcement to make sure he heard the news.

He said there was no truth to the rumors of a rift among the three Texas blue-chippers and speculated that the stories could have been started by other schools that were recruiting Randle and didn't want to see him join the twins in Lexington.

"I guess it didn't work," he said.

NIT: Travis Smith scored 25 to match his career high as seventh-seeded Mercer (24-11) defeated host Tennessee 75-67. … Vincent Council, the fourth-seeded Friars' only senior, scored eight straight to key a second-half charge that led host Providence (18-14) to a 75-66 victory over Charlotte. … Devyn Marble scored 24, Aaron White added 11 with 13 rebounds and third-seeded Iowa (22-12) cruised past Indiana State 68-52 to win a home game in the NIT for the second straight season.

RECRUITING RULES: The NCAA's plan to update the recruiting process has hit another snag.

Three more rules that were passed by the board of directors in January will get a second look from the board in May after at least 75 schools, the minimum needed, signed a petition to override the legislation before Wednesday's deadline.

That means the legislation intended to eliminate rules about how coaches communicate with recruits and how often they can contact recruits outside the traditional non-contact periods has been put on hold.

CHATTANOOGA: Coach John Shulman was fired after nine seasons. His last winning season was 2009, when he last led the Mocs to the NCAA Tournament.

Kentucky adds blue-chipper Julius Randle 03/20/13 [Last modified: Thursday, March 21, 2013 12:09am]

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