The Los Angeles Lakers selected Kentucky forward Julius Randle with the seventh pick in the NBA draft on Thursday.
The Lakers began their rebuilding process from their worst season in more than 50 years by choosing Randle, the 6-foot-9 power forward with impressive physical skills and relentless rebounding prowess.
Randle was the SEC's freshman of the year while helping the Wildcats to the NCAA championship game. He had 24 games with at least 10 points and 10 rebounds, the second-most by a freshman in Division I history.
Randle had an individual workout with the Lakers' front office earlier this month, saying he would love to be selected by the 16-time champions. Randle also squashed injury concerns about his previously broken right foot, saying he doesn't need surgery.
After years of trading away their draft picks in a perpetual effort to win now, the Lakers savored the chance to pick an elite talent. Los Angeles had its third lottery pick in franchise history and its highest choice since 1982.
It was the Lakers' most significant draft pick since 2005, when they chose center Andrew Bynum and nurtured the teenager into a solid NBA player.
The Lakers still entertained the possibility of moving their pick for veteran talent again, but found no deals to their liking.
Los Angeles still hasn't hired a coach to replace Mike D'Antoni, who resigned after the season.
This story has been updated.