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.
Hickory falls to Lions in PIAA Class AA western region final
SLIPPERY ROCK — Brett Brumbaugh brought Bill Brest back to reality.
Brest seemed, Saturday afternoon, momentarily lost in thought when a post-game question was posed. Perhaps it was because it had been 3 months since he had experienced the disappointment of defeat.
Brumbaugh-led South Fayette’s football team short-circuited a splendid season a step shy of the statewide stage for Brest and Hickory High with a 23-20 win over the Hornets in the PIAA Class AA western regional championship game.
SPORTVIEW: Browns, Steelers will both lose
THE CLEVELAND Browns quarterback position has been a revolving door this season, but at least one of the more successful signal-callers is back. Jason Campbell is recovered from a concussion and will start.
Does it really matter?
Roundup: Opening-weekend tipoff tourneys conclude
Kittanning Tipoff Championship
ä Hickory 60, Kittanning 32 — Coach Jeannette Whitehead’s Lady Hornets had an impressive weekend in winning the opening tourney of the season.
“It’s nice to get out of the game with a win,” said Whitehead. “The kids were anxious to get going.”
2013-14 hoops season begins with tipoff tourneys
Farrell Julius McCoy Tipoff Tourney
ä Kennedy Catholic 48, Imani Christian Academy 40 — The Golden Eagles set up an all local rematch with host Farrell by pulling away in the fourth quarter in a tight battle.
For KC, Gerald Zachar and Sam Crow each scored 13 points to pace the victory, Brown had 14 and Southerner 12 for Imani.
Brookfield boys win season-opener against Py Valley
It was a typical season-opener: Too many turnovers, some questionable shot selection, and careless personal fouls. But for Brookfield High boys’ bench boss Bill Kovach, “ ... always happy with a win.”
The Warriors were 7-for-10 from the free-throw line during the 4th frame, and held off Pymatuning Valley, 59-48, Tuesday night.
Hornets advance to semis with win over Central
DuBOIS, PA. — Some people could say the “third time is a charm.” For the Hickory High Hornets it was much more than that. In fact, it was glorious.
After losing in the first round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs the last two years, the Hornets finally nailed down a victory with a 37-27 triumph over the Central Dragons from Martinsburg.
Lakeview falls to Clarion Area in PIAA quarterfinals
SLIPPERY ROCK — In the scholastic athletic arena, “mercy rule” — while not politically correct in hyper-sensitive 2013 society — is a relatively accepted term.
Clarion High’s football had mercy-ruled all 13 prior opponents this season. And the Bobcats seemed bent on continuing their commanding conquests during Saturday’s PIAA Class A quarterfinal-round meeting with Lakeview.
Hickory focused on winning PIAA opener
The calendar reminds us that Thanksgiving arrives a little later than usual this year. But as holiday traditions go, this one has been pretty productive for Hickory High head football coach Bill Brest.
“My wife always has me put up our Christmas tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving ... and the next day, we’ve won. So I’ll be more than happy to help my wife put up the tree this Friday,” Brest related.
During the past 2 years Hickory has won District 10 titles on Thanksgiving weekend. But this year the Hornets harvested their 3rd consecutive crown last week, jettisoning Girard (21-10). Now Hickory (11-1) has a 1 p.m. date in DuBois Saturday against surprising Central-Martinsburg (11-2) in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals.
Smart move by PIAA to schedule games early this weekend
Congratulations to the PIAA for making a good move that helps teams and fans of high school sports.
Wow, I haven’t been able to say that often enough!
But many of the high school football games this coming weekend will be played in the afternoon which is a real plus for traveling on possibly snow-blown highways at this time of the year.
Hornets 3-peat as D-10 champs with win vs. Girard
EDINBORO — When legendary coach Vince Lombardi said “the only good thing that comes from losing is the desire never to lose again,” he could very well have been referencing the future for Coach Bill Brest and his Hickory Hornets.
Since Hickory lost to Sharon, 14-6, in the 2010 District 10 finals in Brest’s first year at the helm of the team, the D-10 Class AA title game has belonged to Hickory. And Saturday afternoon at Edinboro University’s Sox Harrison Stadium, it was no different as the Hornets topped Girard, 21-10 for a third straight crown.
Sailors beat Devils to capture 1st District 10 title
NEW WILMINGTON — Lakeview may have a long way to go to equal Sharpsville’s success in the sport of football, but the Sailors jump-started the process Friday night.
With Blake Reddick roaring into the record book, the Sailors shut out Sharpsville, 27-0, in the District 10 Class A championship game at Greyhounds Stadium.
Hornets seek 3-peat Saturday vs. Girard
Bill Brest ... buffer?
Hickory High’s head football coach has broad shoulders and that’s necessary, because he’s taking on all distractions as his Hornets prepare for Saturday’s District 10 Class AA championship game.
Hickory (10-1) will attempt to hoist the D-10 trophy for a 3rd consecutive season when the Hornets journey to Girard’s backyard — Edinboro University’s Sox Harrison Stadium — to meet the Yellow Jackets at 1 p.m.
Hickory rolls past Northwestern in D-10 semifinals
SLIPPERY ROCK — They say that “Familiarity breeds contempt.” You can bet the Northwestern Wildcats are feeling a bit of the latter for the Hickory Hornets!
For a third straight season Hickory eliminated the northerners from the District 10 Class AA playoffs, this time by a 52-14 score in the semifinals Saturday night at Slippery Rock University’s Thompson-Mihalik Stadium.
Greenville falls to Girard in D-10 semifinals
ERIE — District 10 was destined for a Class AA championship game between reigning 2-time titlist Hickory and Greenville.
But no one informed the Girard High football team of the plans.
“ … This is pretty cool … I’m pretty fired up about it,” admitted 4th-year Yellow Jackets’ head coach Jim Funk after Girard jolted Greenville, 16-14.
SPORTVIEW: Season fate could be decided today for Browns, Steelers
IT MAKES NO sense to say that one game determines the rest of the season. That’s why I’ll simply say: Today’s one game determines the rest of the season.
Since when did my predictions make sense anyhow?
The Cleveland Browns’ visit to Cincinnati today will go a long way to deciding if the Browns have a shot at making the playoffs — and even winning the AFC North title — or if they should start planning for the NFL draft.
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- Hickory falls to Lions in PIAA Class AA western region final