Randolph Rules The Triangle

<b>The hottest name in the Triangle is no longer Battier. In fact, now that the Duke senior has moved on, all of the media attention in this basketball hotbed is focused on Shavlik Randolph, the No. 1 player in the nation. It's a wild scene, but he's handling it with class.</b>

A Typical Day

The alarm goes off at 7:20 a.m. It's time to hit the showers and grab some energy for breakfast. Shortly thereafter, his ride arrives. See, Shav might be a lot of things to a lot of people, but he's in less of a hurry to get his driver's license than he is to pick a college.

School is long and hard for Randolph. Being the No. 1 recruit in the nation means you have to work extra hard on your game, but keeping up with his bookwork is equally important and just as draining. First period is for doing homework and catching up with his teachers.

After the final bell sounds to signify the end of the day, it's off to work for Randolph. There's weightlifting to do and individual instruction to put himself through. This happens every day. However, at least three times a week he has to squeeze in time to stay after school to see his tudor and catch up on some schoolwork.

After dinner, there's no rest for the weary. Randolph finds a gym, usually Broughton, and goes through another series of workouts. Some of them are conducted under the watchful eye of Mike Hollis, his basketball mentor who runs the Networks program, a unique group of hoopsters who blend religion and basketball into a cohesive unit.

For Randolph, the day usually ends around 9:30 or 10 p.m. At this point, he's probably squeezed in all the academics and basketball he can handle.

The Pressure of Living In A Hoops Hotbed

"It's pretty crazy," Randolph said. "I mean I guess it'll get more hectic as the summer goes along." Hectic, from an outsider's perspective, it's darn near ridiculous. Just a few months ago, I was standing in line at a restaurant in Durham when two ladies who had to be at least 75 years young, broke into conversation about the Raleigh teenager.

"I wonder what that Randolph boy is going to do," one lady said to the other. "I don't know, but I heard he's really good," the second lady chimed in. The hysteria has hit everyone and Randolph Mania is running rampant. Go to a Broughton High School game and you can usually purchase "from an enterprising Broughton student" at least two different varieties of Randolph t-shirts. "Shav Country" is my personal favorite, but trust me, there are plenty of varieties to pick from.

"I don't really feel a lot of pressure to stay around here," Randolph said. "I know that no matter what college I choose to attend, no matter where it is, someone is going to have to be disappointed.

"Around here, people who are college basketball fans come up and tell me about where I need to go." That's probably the part Randolph likes the least about the whole process, but who can blame him. It's his decision, and he's going to be the one ultimately responsible for coming to grips with his heart.

"I've thought if I went ahead and decided I wouldn't have to worry about anyone telling me what college to go to, but I don't want to make any fast decisions."

About Being No. 1

"[Being No. 1] I just think that it shows my hardwork is paying off. I just take it as an honor."

Make no mistake about it, Randolph's work ethic is legendary. Sometimes, it's hard to imagine that he's the real deal. You hear all this stuff about the late nights in the gyms, working tirelessly on his outside game and footwork and wonder if it's all true. Well, there's little doubt it's true. Believe the hype.

"I want to improve more over this summer than I did last year."

On Who Has Impressed Him

When you play in as many events as Shavlik does a year, you get to see and for that matter, pretty much play against everyone.

"Stoudemire was real good, and I didn't play against him, but I thought Raymond Felton was awesome when I played with him. To me, he was incredible. So was Rashad McCants."

Was that Randolph commenting about two guys who could be future teammates? "I know," Randolph said with a chuckle, "but they did impress me." That remark is the kind of thing that drives Internet chat rooms to record numbers, but folks, let's not read into it, it was a young man who has yet to obtain a driver's license simply commenting on who he thought the best players were. Nothing more, nothing less.

Where Will It Be?

Randolph says that one of the highlights of his season came against Leesville Road, Broughton's biggest rival. In the crowd that night was a strong contingent from Duke. Let's see, there was Jason Williams, Chris Duhon, Reggie Love and assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski. Oops, almost forgot but a guy named Krzyzewski was there that night too.

So, right now the list reads Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Florida, Stanford and Kansas. FYI: For those of you looking to read into that list, it was in no particular order. See, that's the hysteria of Randolph Mania; sometimes statements need qualifiers with them.

"I am in a fortunate situation in that there are so many great basketball schools in my backyard," Randolph said. "Then again, that's going to be one of the negatives about the whole situation is having to say no. It's going to be hard to say no to any of them."

One of those schools looking to snare Randolph from under the grasp of the local ACC programs is Florida. Donovan himself helped grow the legend of Randolph when he flew to Raleigh and stood outside Broughton just so Randolph would see him there. You know, just to let the big fella know he was thinking of him.

"I took a visit to Florida and it was a great visit. I could definitely see myself playing there."

Not too long ago, Randolph dropped over to see the boys at NC State. "They just wanted to let me know that they are still thinking about me."

Of course, Shavlik's been to Duke and North Carolina, which brings up another cool Randolph story. On the night Shane Battier was having his jersey retired against Wake Forest, Randolph was in attendance. OK, so he wasn't there the whole game. At halftime, Randolph calmly walked out of Cameron Indoor Stadium and got in the car with his father to head back to Raleigh. See, Broughton had a playoff game the next night and it was imperative to Shavlik that he squeeze in some more time in the gym to make sure he was ready.

OK, still not convinced this kid is the real deal? Well, try this one. At a silent auction during a fundraiser at a Networks banquet, the two prize items were a pair of autographed basketballs. One of them was signed by the great Michael Jordan and the other by Randolph. The Jordan ball went for a cool $350. However, the Randolph signed piece of memorabilia fetched, get this, $500!

Enough said.

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