Brian Randle Could Be the "X" Factor

When you ask a coach to give you his/her definition of an athlete, you get a different answer every time. I can assure you that when you ask that same question about Illinois forward Brian Randle you will get all kinds of adjectives to describe him.

This summer I had the chance to spend a week with Sam Alford, the father of Iowa head basketball coach Steve Alford, at a youth basketball camp. Once Sam found out that my kid was coming to camp everyday with a Luther Head, Dee Brown and Deron Williams jersey, he figured out that there was an Illinois connection there.

First question out of Alford's mouth was, "How's the Randle kid? Boy he's a great athlete. He can run, jump and finish in traffic. I remember seeing him in high school thinking he's going to be a player for someone. We tried to get him."

Last March I attended a youth basketball tournament in Peoria, Illinois and I overheard the tournament directors talking about a few of the kids playing in the tournament. The director said, "Yes, we've had some pretty talented kids come though this tournament but I've never seen anything like the performance Brian Randle put on. He scored 41 points and he never played the fourth quarter."

Randle knows he's been given a gift but he's had some minor setbacks to prevent him from seeing the court. "This year I hope I can stay healthy. I'm hoping for big things this year for my team and myself. We should be pretty good again this year. I know a lot of people will be talking about last year, but this is a new group of guys that can play," said Randle.

Randle is eager to talk about the new players as well. He was very complimentary of shooting guard Jamar Smith and point guard Chester Frazier. "When those guys start to click, we should be fine. They have done well very well so far," he added.

To display his athletic ability during Midnight Madness they held a dunk contest. With guard Calvin Brock sitting out due to some classroom work your knew who was going to win that contest. Brian won the contest with ease and during the scrimmage he made it look so effortless.

This year Randle knows his slashing and ability to post of guards could be the key to a successful season for Illinois, and he's looking forward to it. Just as long as he stays healthy.

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