The current Kentucky basketball players are not the only ones who look ready for March Madness.
The alumni look pretty pumped up too.
While coach John Calipari gets his second-seeded Wildcats ready for this year’s NCAA Tournament, some of his recent alums are ratcheting up their play on the NBA hardwoods.
Julius Randle was a monster on Wednesday for the Los Angeles Lakers, bullying his way to a 32-point, eight-rebound night, notching a career-high in points during a 132-100 loss to the Houston Rockets.
Randle has turned into a formidable inside force for the young Lakers, averaging 13.2 points and 8.6 rebounds this season.
His former college teammate put up some eye-popping numbers too, as Willie Cauley-Stein filled the stat sheet for the Sacramento Kings in a 107-101 win against the Phoenix Suns.
Cauley-Stein had 14 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, four steals and four blocks as he continued his nice stretch of play since DeMarcus Cousins – another former UK star – was dealt away from the Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans (to play with ANOTHER Kentucky alum in Anthony Davis).
Since Cousins was traded, Cauley-Stein is averaging 13.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 blocks. For the season, he’s now up to averages of 7.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 0.6 blocks.
But even more impressive than Randle and Cauley-Stein on Wednesday was a much less-heralded member of the Kentucky community, but one that could have a bright future in the NBA nonetheless.
Rookie Skal Labissiere, who slipped to the 28th pick in the 2016 NBA draft despite promising potential, is finally showing why he was such a heralded recruit for Calipari when he came out of Lausanne Collegiate School in Cordova, Tennessee.
Some recruiting services, including Rivals.com, had Labissiere rated higher than Ben Simmons, who went on to be the first pick of the draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Labissiere has spent 17 games with the Reno Bighorns of the NBA’s D-League this season and only appeared in seven of Sacramento’s first 56 games.
However, Cousins being dealt freed up some bench minutes in the frontcourt for coach Dave Joerger’s team. Since the trade, Labissiere has played at least 14 minutes in all but one of the 11 games.
On Wednesday, Skal gave a glimpse as to why he might be part of Sacramento's long-term plans, scoring a career-high 32 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in 30 minutes. Labissiere's previous career high was 15 points.
The 6-foot-11 Haitian was 11 of 15 from the field and was 9-of-11 shooting on free throws. The 32-point outburst was the first time any player from the 2016 draft class has reached 30 in a game.
Rookie Joel Embiid has reached 30 twice, but he was drafted in 2014. His Philadelphia 76ers teammate Dario Saric, who might be the new Rookie of the Year favorite and also was drafted in 2014, has not scored 30 in a game yet.
Add Labissiere to the list of young players to watch, alongside many of his fellow former Kentucky Wildcats.