MERCER COUNTY —
Kyle Randall can only hope the arc of his professional athletic career approaches that of Russell Wilson.
When Wilson enrolled at the University of Wisconsin after graduating from North Carolina State University, he had a year of NCAA athletic eligibility remaining. Parlaying that into a stellar season in which his draft stock rose, Wilson blossomed into one of the NFL’s brightest young stars during his rookie season of 2012.
Randall’s road is trending toward a similar path, possibly in the National Basketball Association.
Recently, Randall became part of a 15-man roster for the Sacramento Kings’ Las Vegas Summer League entry. He leaves for Las Vegas July 8 for a 4-day camp before the teams play an abbreviated schedule.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s definitely exciting. I’ve been working hard for this since my high school days,” Randall related.
After graduating from Kennedy Catholic High with a then-Mercer County career record 2,022 points, Randall matriculated at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. After earning his degree in 3 years, however, Randall regarded a change in scenary might boost his basketball abilities. So he “ ... started the recruiting process all over again, talking to coaches and giving them my basketball resumé.”
He chose Central Michigan University to commence work on a graduate degree while continuing his collegiate cage career. While the youthful Chippewas checked in with an 11-19 ledger in 2012-13, Randall recorded a Mid-American Conference-leading 18.3 points per game.
“That proved pretty beneficial to this journey that I’m now on,” Randall recently related via telephone. “Going into the season I met with the head coach, Keno Davis, and he told me he was confident in the fact I could score if had to. He told me, ‘Your role will be to do whatever the team needs.’ But he gave me a lot of freedom.”
Often, Randall’s four other starting teammates were freshmen, but he utilized that as a learning experience for them and leadership enhancement for himself.
“The (CMU) coaching staff loved me and trusted me, being a senior and having played Division I ball for three years,” the 21-year-old Randall related. “A senior and four freshmen, it’s kind’ve unheard of, but I had to be the leader for all of those young guys ... being a mentor to those guys.”
The year at Central Michigan afforded Randall the opportunity to work on his mid- and long-range shooting. He connected on 42 percent of his floor shots, 39 percent of his 3-point attempts, and converted 85 percent of his free-throw tries.
Randall had been working out in Phoenix, then Las Vegas, before being notified he’ll suit up for Sacramento assistant coach Chris Jent. One of his summertime teammates is slated to be Kansas University product Ben McLemore, the No. 7 selection in the recent NBA draft.
“It’s definitely exciting,” the normally reserved Randall admitted. “I’m thankful to God that He’s blessed me with this opportunity. But,” Randall emphasized, “I’m gonna have to work hard. Nothing’s set in stone, except that I’m on a summer league roster. That doesn’t mean much in terms of an NBA contract. I have to perform, do well.”
But Randall regards this as an audition not only for the Sacramento Kings, but every other NBA organization’s general manager.
“I’ve been told all the driving and slashing I usually do, that won’t come as often,” the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Randall related. “These players are a lot bigger, stronger, faster. ... Being able to knock open jump shots down consistently is what a lot of teams are looking for.
“This platform’s bigger; most GM’s will be out there watching,” he added.
The Las Vegas Summer League schedule includes 3 games, which a new format will use to seed a tournament that begins July 17, in which every team is guaranteed another 2 games (visit NBA.com, for more information).
“Hopefully, I’ll make enough noise to get on ESPN or ESPN2 and get on somebody’s highlight reel,” remarked Randall, one of three basketball-playing sons of Craig and Karla Randall (brother Lance played at Thiel College, while younger brother Craig is a high school junior in Medina, Ohio).
However, his eyes wide open, Randall realizes this will be a whole different level of basketball.
“Everybody up there is the best of the best, the best wherever they come from, the top athletes in the country. Quicker, taller, faster, stronger,” Randall assessed, noting, “There’s a transition from high school to college, but going from college to the pro level is an even greater transition. Everything there is all about reacting; you only have a split-second to choose what to do.
“But I’m working on it,” continued Randall regarding his resolve. “I’ve been weight-training to improve my quickness, strength, vertical leap, while also trying to be ready to withstand the pounding. ... The summer’s been good for me. I’ve been working really hard and I’m seeing the results. I think I’ll be ready to make a contribution, or at least get some looks.”
Hopefully a long look from new Kings’ GM Peter D’Alessandro.
“The NBA is definitely in my sights right now. But if that doesn’t work out I’m definitely open to going to play across the water (Europe) or the ‘D-League’ (NBA Development League). It’s all about building a resumé,” Randall reasoned. “Coming from a small school, it’s not like (the University of Michigan’s) Trey Burke or (Indiana University’s) Cody Zeller. We all take different routes to get to where we want to go.’
The reserved Randall admitted, “I’m always more the business type. I show my excitement a little differently. I’ve got nothing to be jumping for joy about right now, but I have to make the best of it. ... Whatever happens, I’m just trying to get to the NBA somehow.
“Call me back at the end of the month,” a chuckling Randall said. “If I have an NBA contract heading into the regular season ... ”
More seriously, he noted, “I’ve always been one to like challenges. This is just a new one.”
MERCER COUNTY —
Kyle Randall can only hope the arc of his professional athletic career approaches that of Russell Wilson.
Breese defends heavyweight title at PIAA Championships
HERSHEY, Pa. — Move over Rod Wright!
Lakeview senior heavyweight star Sam Breese had a goal coming into the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships this weekend at Hershey Giant Center — besides winning a second state crown, that is.
WM knocks off Neshannock in PIAA playoffs
SLIPPERY ROCK — The notion of Trey Staunch sneaking up on opposing teams is laughable. At 6-foot-3 and approximately 225 pounds, the stout Staunch is not sneaking up on anyone.
However after posting a game-high 31-point, 18-rebound performance in West Middlesex High basketball team’s 76-66 PIAA Class AA playoffs opening-round win over Neshannock Saturday night, Staunch said opponents may have been overlooking the Big Reds.
Hickory girls 26-0, oust Johnstown
SLIPPERY ROCK — At Morrow Field House Saturday evening, the Hickory Lady Hornets kept the perfect season alive with a 63-37 state playoff first round win over the Greater Johnstown Trojans from District 6.
“It feels great to get the win (Saturday),” said veterans Hickory coach Jeanette Whitehead. “We’ve been at this place over the last few years and we’ve been sent home in the first round so it was a huge win for us. I’m very proud of our team effort."
KC girls roll past California in PIAA playoffs
SLIPPERY ROCK — Kennedy Catholic High girls’ basketball team was in the ’hood Saturday afternoon.
Led by senior Taylor Hood, the Lady Golden Eagles eased past California, 53-34, in the opening round of the PIAA Class A playoffs.
Lakeview's Breese to defend PIAA title
HERSHEY, Pa. — If you are Major League Baseball player, a .333 batting average is great. But in wrestling at the state tournament — not so much!
Out of the dozen wrestlers that Mercer County sent to Hershey for the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships, only four (.333) will reach the medal stand today — led by Lakeview senior Sam Breese who shoots for a second straight gold medal.
Farrell edges Montour, 60-57, in PIAA opener
Montour High boys’ basketball coach Adam Kaufman lamented another season-ending setback. However there are several hundred coaches across the Commonwealth who envy his program’s recent success and would trade places with him in a heartbeat.
But during Friday night’s PIAA Class AAA playoff opener, Kaufman & Co. could not overcome those streaky Steelers ... those survivin’ Steelers.
“ ... Hey, survive and move on,” summarized Steelers’ skipper Roland Shannonhouse following Farrell’s 60-57 win at Sharon High.
GCC ousts Mercer in 1st round of PIAAs
The Mercer Lady Mustangs were outscored 16-4 in the final quarter of the first round of the state playoffs by the Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions, ending their season Friday night 56-31 at Sharon High School.
Senior Lexie Arkwright had a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double performance for the Lady M’s. She also snagged three steals. Adelyn Cook and Haylie Glass each added 4 points for Mercer.
5 area matmen to quarterfinals in Hershey
HERSHEY — Mercer County matmen had mixed results on the opening day of action in the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center.
Only 5 of the county’s dozen entries — led by defending state champ Sam Breese of Lakeview (285) — won their preliminary matches to move into the tournament quarterfinals which begin at 9 a.m. today. However the other 7 lost their first matches, although 3 are still alive in the consolations heading into this morning’s action.
Coach Chad Mild's Big Reds are road warriors
West Middlesex High boys basketball team did not play its first home game until after the first of the year, but competing at New Castle, Farrell and Youngstown’s Covelli Centre has served it well.
Witness West Middlesex’s 55-54 win over Fairview in last weekend’s District 10 Class AA championship game — at Edinboro University’s McComb Field House.
Boys PIAA basketball preview boxes
Who: Farrell (22-3) vs. Montour (16-8).
What: Opening round.
When: 7:30 p.m. today.
Where: Sharon High’s Tiger Gymnasium.
Hickory, Mercer, KC girls PIAA playoff boxes
Who: Hickory (25-0) vs. Greater Johnstown (11-14).
What: PIAA Playoffs, 1st round.
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Slippery Rock University.
Shannonhouse's Steelers set for statewide stage
With the approaching spring, a young man’s fancy turns to ... what else? The PIAA playoffs. And when Shenango Valley scholastic basketball aficionados think of the postseason they think of Farrell.
Recently at E.J. McCluskey Gymnasium, the banners above were blowing in the breeze — ’52 ... ’54 ... ’56 ... ’59 ... ’60 ... ’69 ... ’72 — swaying as sprinting players created a vacuum of air rising from the floor. Melodramatic maybe, but there’s a feeling at Farrell that harkens back to the heyday when playoff success was a rite of passage.
Breese eyes repeat at state mat tourney
There is no doubt that winning a state championship in wrestling is a difficult thing to do. Winning two is even tougher.
“There’s a target on your chest,” pointed out Lakeview High coach Tom Tingley in preseason this year, referring to his star wrestler Sam Breese who won a state heavyweight crown as a junior last year.
Obviously that target hasn’t bothered the Sailors big man who is a perfect 32-0 this season as he attempts to become only the 12th Mercer County matman to win multiple titles.
WRESTLING NOTEBOOK: It's a young group of county matmen headed to state
THERE’S definitely a youth movement in Mercer County wrestling as demonstrated by the group of 11 matmen who are advancing to the PIAA State Class AA Championships on Thursday.
Eight of the locals are underclassmen. The only seniors are Lakeview’s Sam Breese (285), Reynolds’ Levi Stoyer (145) and Jamestown’s Mohamed Messai (182).
Breese and Stoyer are the only returning state place-winners. Breese, who has verbally committed to Kent State University to wrestle next season, won the heavyweight class and is seeking a second gold medal. Stoyer placed 7th at 145 and wants to climb much higher on the medals stand.
Kennedy boys forfeit win, are out of playoffs
The PIAA basketball playoffs do not begin until Friday, but Mercer County already lost a team.
Kennedy Catholic High disclosed Monday the discovery of an academically-ineligible player, who competed in last Friday’s District 10 Class A consolation contest.
Kennedy Catholic edged Eisenhower in double-OT, 66-62, earning a berth in the statewide tournament. The Golden Eagles were to meet District 9 champion Ridgway Friday at Clarion University’s Tippin Gymnasium in the opening round; instead, Eisenhower will represent D-10 as its 3rd-place team.
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