Brian Randle - Living a Childhood Dream
Brian Randle's career at Illinois is winding down, but one can only wonder "what if?" Randle knows he's been injured and has never really played the game the way he knows how to because of injuries. "My days at Assembly Hall are done. After five years; it's been a long time. I have nothing but great memories here and they're ones I will carry with me for a lifetime," Randle said.
Randle is a 6'8" senior from East Peoria (IL), where he played high school basketball at Peoria Notre Dame. Before coming to Illinois, Randle averaged 22.9 points, 12.8 rebounds, 5.2 blocks and 3.1 assists per game as a high school senior. While at the University of Illinois, he earned a bachelor's degree in agri-finance and now pursuing a master's degree in sports management.
The Illinois basketball season is not over. Thursday the Big Ten Tournament begins in Indianapolis where the Illini will take on Penn State at 2:30 pm. on ESPN2 giving Randle one more chance to keep playing.
Here is InsideIllini.com's one-on-one with Randle:
Last Saturday you gave a speech to the fans after the Minnesota game. Was that something you had planned?
No. Coach Weber came up to me and asked if I wanted to say something to the fans, so I decided I should say something. The fans, my family and Orange Krush have been there with me my very first day here until my last home game. It was my way of showing recognition to them and to let them know that I love them from the bottom of my heart.
Brian, how did you deal with all the injuries throughout your career? Everyone knows how good of an athlete you really are. Were there some days worse than others for you or did you just accept the fact - it is what it is?
There's no reason to hold back. Each time I stepped on the court I went a 100%. Like you said, it is what it is. It's just the way the script was written; it's in the Lord's hands. I understand it; I accept it. There's no bitterness in my heart. If I have the abilities to step on the court regardless of what good or bad might happen, I'm not going to have any regrets. During my last game I almost took a charge I bet that gave my mom and dad a heart attack [laughter].
You were one of the best players in the county coming out of high school. Putting on the jersey in front of the home crowd - can you explain your feelings doing that?
That was very, very special to me, especially us Peoria guys. A lot of us were inspired to play college basketball or wanted to play in the NBA, and wearing the Illinois jersey we knew that was a lifelong dream. For me, Illinois was it. My sister went here. I have a lot of people supporting me, so not playing here anymore will be tough. Once you invest time and effort or blood, sweat and tears into this jersey, whether it be for a minute or a second, it's a lifelong bond. It's always going to be in my blood. I will always support these guys from day one, just like they supported me from the time I got here until now, even though it's the end. Regardless - if I'm 24 or 97 I'm an Illini forever and these guys have my heart.
What is the most memorable moment ever being here at Illinois?
Although I wasn't playing, most definitely the Final Four - hands down. That's a different environment. We were in St. Louis, which made it very special. The fact that more fans were able to come and show support was great. But being able to walk into a practice, for an hour or hour and fifteen minutes, and see 28, 000 fans there to watch you shoot around really shows the love that people have for this university and I think it echoes from now into the future.
Brian, you talked about a lot of younger kids' dreams of growing up wearing that jersey. If you could tell the kids one thing about that, what would it be? There're only so many scholarships available, so what would you say to them or how to keep the dream?
You said it best. Keep the dream. There's never something that's too far-fetched as long as someone's heart is in it. For me, if you would have seen me the first couple years I started, you would never think I'd be here. It's hard work, but it's passion for me. It was a dream and I didn't let it go. For young kids, high school kids or whatever - hold on to that dream. Hold on to that passion and work as hard as you can. Coach Weber said it best, "The pain of regret is much worse than the pain of distance."
Regardless of what the future holds for Brian, no one can ever question his heart and determination of playing the game he loves. Maybe with a little luck, after his playing days are over at Illinois, there will be more basketball, but let's hope after five years of it - he's injury free.
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