Chasson Randle has been highly recruited since his freshman year at Rock Island High School because he is a talented athlete with intelligence and savvy. But his play with the Illinois Wolves team at the recent Chicago Hoops Classic demonstrated a maturity and confidence not shown previously. He admits being named to the USA 16U National Team did wonders for him.
"Yeah, that was a confidence booster playing with those guys."
Getting to play with the gold medal-winning team in Argentina this summer was the highlight of Randle's young career.
"It's the greatest experience I've ever been through. USA basketball is great, and hopefully I can continue with that program and get better at it. Come back next year and do the same thing."
Illinois Wolves coach Mike Mullens has also seen the improvements in Randle's confidence and court demeanor.
"Chasson got to play all three age groups with us, and he's had a lot of experiences not only basketball-wise but as a person. And then making the USA team, going to Argentina and winning the gold medal. While everyone else was playing high school games in the month of June, he was playing against the best kids in the world and with the best kids in our country.
"So that gives you a quiet confidence that you belong. And that has helped him step up his game. We're happy that he had that experience. Those are life-changing experiences, not just basketball experiences."
Randle learned a great deal playing international ball. It expanded his understanding of what is needed to excel at the highest levels.
"I learned a lot about the mental part of the game. Over there, everybody's really sound. So you have to think more and not just use your ability to take over. So that's what I want to learn to do."
A less mature Randle might have tightened up at the site of so many college coaches watching his every move at the AAU event. But it seemed to strengthen his resolve. He says he did notice them in the audience.
"A little bit. I tried to concentrate on the game, but it's hard not to look over there. At first I was a little overwhelmed. It was exciting to see all the coaches."
Sometimes, these coaches travel long distances just to be seen by the players. But it is necessary for successful recruiting according to Randle.
"It's very important. For a school you are considering, you want to see the head coach come out and watch you. You kind of get used to it, but you still want to know who's out there."
Randle was listed as 6'-0" on the USA team, two inches shorter than previously announced. He is working hard on improving his point guard skills so he can play both the 1 and 2 and not just be an undersized wing player.
"Every day I'm working in the gym with my dad and other coaches. We're doing ball handling and things like that. I'm working on my skills all around, and most definitely my point guard skills."
The well-spoken youngster has been extremely busy this summer. He had to leave the AAU tournament after one day to play with his high school team in a shootout. And he will travel with the Wolves to other July AAU events nationally. School visits haven't been possible.
"This summer, I haven't taken any visits. I haven't had the time. I'm looking to do some in August and maybe later on in July."
With offers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State and Wisconsin, Randle has plenty of top schools from which to choose. He may add more to that list with his play this summer, but that is of little concern to him.
"I'm happy with my offers so far. If more come, so be it. But right now, I think I have enough really."
Some have speculated Randle might wish to make an early commitment to a school. However, his timetable continues to be pushed back.
"I'm not sure. Right now, I'm thinking between my junior and senior year of school."