At the 17-and-under Super Showcase in Orlando, he had 44 points and 11 assists in a double-overtime win over the New York Gauchos, then followed up with a 32-point performance in a double-overtime game vs. the Illinois Warriors. A week later, he led Chicago Ferrari to the 17-and-under National AAU Tournament championship. In the title game, he hit a floater in the lane with three seconds left to defeat the Chicago Jaguars, 65-64.
Since returning from Orlando, his phone hasn't stopped ringing. Recently, he picked it up to talk to Scott Powers about his month of July, his recruiting, why people still overlook him because of his size (5-foot-8) and more.
Scott Powers: What's the last month been like?
Jerome Randle: It's been crazy and exciting. Very exciting.
SP: What was the Showcase and National Championship like?
JR: The Showcase my coach Coach Ty asked us to sit down at the house and said I want you to win the Showcase. Can you do this for me? He asked us. I didn't know I was going to play that well. I still had a chip on my shoulder from Nike Camp. I just came out and gave it my all.
Nationals, we went out with a bang. We didn't win a tournament all year. Last year we won eight tournaments out of 11. We just had to win the tournament. The last tournament of the year, AAU nationals, we came out champions.
SP: Your play over the entire month was solid?
JR: I think I've been playing very well. A lot of people say they've never seen me play like this before. It seems like to me I've been doing this the whole time. A lot of times I feel like I played bad and they come up to me and say, ‘Good game,' and I look at them as if they're out of their mind.
SP: You might have been happy this past month, though?
JR: I was very happy the last couple of months, especially the month of July. It was like I was in the zone.
SP: Describe that zone.
JR: Unstoppable. Just unstoppable. I was thinking no one could stop me.
SP: There are still people who doubt your ability. You weren't ranked in a number of top 100 national lists. Why are people still overlooking you?
JR: I have no idea. If it's my height, that's crazy. I'm playing people that are 6-1 and dominating them. Nike Camps and stuff like that are a big reason why I'm not ranked in the top 100. Maybe if I was invited to Nike Camp, Adidas camp, I know I would have played well; maybe I would have been listed in the top 100. I don't let those kind of things get to me. I just go out and play.
SP: So it doesn't bother you?
JR: No matter what I'm going to play. I'm not going to let that be my downfall or let that get to me just because I'm not listed in the top 100. It's another reason for me to get in the zone. I know I'm better than a lot of those players and I should be listed in the top 100.
SP: What are your strengths as a player?
JR: Speed. My jump shot got way better. I just create a lot of havoc for the opponent.
SP: How much work did you have to put into the jumper?
JR: I'm in the gym every day, putting up at least 300-400 shots a day. As a freshman I was a role player. I didn't really get a lot of playing time. I would come in, turn the game around and use my speed. My sophomore year I was still sort of a role player, but I got comfortable with shooting. I was scared shooting as a freshman. I thought I'd mess up and get taken out of the game. I did mess up and I was on the bench.
SP: Your junior year you had more confidence?
JR: The ball was in my hands. I had the ball at all times. I was the general on the floor. Whatever happens was because of me. Nate Minnoy got his points, but someone had to pass him the ball. He didn't pass himself the ball. I passed him the ball and he'd put up 30. He's the type of player who could put up 30 every game. Mike Robinson, I'd pass him the ball and he'd sometimes have a 30-point night. I also got my shots up.
SP: What do you have to say to the critics who say you're too small?
JR: Look at Earl Boykins. He's going out some nights playing 6-6 guards in the league, putting up 30 points, 25 points. How can you overlook height? If you can play, you can play. My dream is to get to the highest level of basketball. I'm not going to let anyone stop me, saying I'm too small. Height is not the problem.
SP: What do you still need to work on?
JR: Just getting stronger. Getting stronger, improving on my defense. I say everything. You always need to improve on parts of your game.
SP: How has playing beside players like Nate Minnoy for a two-time state champion like Hales Franciscan develop your game?
JR: It helped me develop as a player. It really helped me to be a leader. I wasn't the only scorer on the team. We had a lot of points to get passed around. I had to make decisions. I was the leader on the floor. A lot of plays went through me.
A lot of people tell me that I made that team better. I don't get the big head about that because I made that team better. I come down, pass the ball, feed the post. I also do it on my AAU team. On my AAU team, I have to be a scorer also. On Hales, I didn't have to be a scorer because we had Nate and Mike. This year as a senior I have to be a scorer and lead the team. We have a young team.
SP: Despite losing four starters, you feel Hales has a shot at repeating in Class A?
JR: Oh yeah, I know we do. I was just hoping we'd change to AA because then we'd get more respect. I wanted Hales to be a AA school because that's where the competition is at. There's no way we can't compete. We can compete with anybody. I know I can compete with anybody. All the top players in the state are AA. You never hear about anybody in Class A. I'm not trying to be cocky or anything like that. They said we were winning AA too much. They said we lost Nate and Mike and we wouldn't win it again. I think they're wrong.
SP: You faced Crane and Sherron Collins during the summer at the University of Illinois team camp. How do you feel you stood up against one of the nation's top point guards?
JR: I'll just start with saying Sherron is one of the best players I've ever played before. I think I played well. I hope we can have another chance to play against him. If we can get them on their schedule, man, it would be good. I don't know why I shouldn't be up there with that player Sherron Collins. I feel I deserve to be right up there.
SP: How's recruiting going?
JR: The recruiting is going well. I'm trying to narrow down the schools. I have Western Illinois, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Akron, DePaul, Cal, Tulsa, Dayton, Tulane, Minnesota, Illinois State, Florida A&M and a couple others.
SP: Your recruitment has really blown up?
JR: My phone has been blowing up. I feel great about that. My hard work has paid off. Even though I can only pick one school, I'll never forget that there's a lot of people willing to take me, let me run their team. I feel real special about that.
I think a lot of major schools want me but they look at my height and they're scared. I don't know what people think my height would do. What I'm going to make bad moves or something? I think about that sometimes. What are they scared about height for? Am I going to turn the ball over and someone will score 80 points on me. I wish someone would talk to me and tell me about that because I don't really understand it.
SP: Any visits yet?
JR: No visits. My mother and coach are trying to do that right now.
SP: Any leaders?
JR: I think Tulsa, Dayton and Cal, DePaul. I love those coaches. Tulsa has been there for a long time. DePaul is coming along. I love DePaul because I love competition. They're in the Big East. I would love to be in the Big Est. I just don't want to sit out. I don't want to do that. I was a role player at Hales. I don't want to be a role player in college. I don't have a real problem, but I don't want to sit out two years and be a role player like I did at Hales. You don't want to sit on the bench and come in and make a play. I don't know if that sounds selfish, but I'm trying to get the next level. I feel I'm the type of player who can go in and make an impact immediately.
That's something I'm really considering. Would I go in and play right away? The Big East would be really tough. I don't want to sit there and watch everyone play and warm up the seat.
I do want to commit in the first signing period.
SP: How would you describe your personality?
JR: I get along with a lot of people. A lot of people really love me. My mom comes in and says, ‘You make me so proud.' She goes to Walgreen's and they say, ‘Are you Jerome Randle's mother? He's a good kid.' I make her so proud.
SP: Are you confident or cocky? Is there a difference?
JR: Cocky, that's not one of them. I would say confidence. Cocky is you know you're good, but you go around and think no one can beat me … I don't really know what cocky is. Confident is you really believe in yourself. You know you can do it, but you stay humble. I consider myself being humble, not cocky.
SP: Anything you'd like to add?
JR: The only thing is it's going to be an exciting year. Let's leave it at that.
Q&A with Jerome Randle
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