Chicago Sun-Times
By Joe Henricksen

Little Randolph a Big 1 in 2012?

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By Joe Henricksen

The City/Suburban Hoops Report came oh so close to doing the unthinkable: putting a 5-5 point guard at the top of the rankings in the Class of 2012. Oh, OK, we'll give him 5-6. But that's how much the Hoops Report values Whitney Young's Derrick Randolph, a little tough-minded, hard-nosed, put-his-foot-on-your-throat point guard who plays with Ferrari on the AAU circuit.

In the end, when the Hoops Report's updated Class of 2012 rankings do come out, Champaign Central's Jay Simpson, a Purdue commitment, will be No. 1, followed by Randolph in the No. 2 spot when it comes to college prospects in the junior-to-be class. When was the last time the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the class were separated by 14 inches? You can't help but factor that in the equation when looking at the top two prospects.

Randolph is tiny but strong. No one will take the basketball away from him. He will run a team in the halfcourt and can also push the tempo with speed from end to end while staying in control. He will hound you and make you change directions defensively for 94 feet. He has a heart the size of Texas and a toughness and confidence that permeates through to his teammates. Where he has made his biggest leap is with his perimeter shot. He will hit the pull-up, mid-range jumper, which he does a great job of using rather than getting too deep in the lane, and has added range out to the three-point line. In a 39-point win over the Mac Irvin Fire 16s this past weekend at the Spiece Run-n-Slam in Fort Wayne, Randolph drained six three-pointers.

When you appreciate Randolph the most, however, is at the end of the game. He is one you can guarantee left it all on the floor. You don't have to worry about whether he will bring it every day. A prime example came Saturday morning in pool play. In the closing minute of a 9:30 a.m. game that was already decided with Ferrari holding a comfortable lead, the opposing team, nonetheless, attempted to roll the ball up the floor while the clock was stopped. Randolph immediately raced up, dove on the floor to grab possession and called a timeout. This is at 9:30 a.m. in an AAU tournament when many players were yawning and others sleepwalking.

When it comes to little guards, the Hoops Report has never been too big of a fan as far as playing at the high-major level. The tiny ones have to be special. Maurice Acker, the former Hillcrest point guard, and Hales Franciscan's Jerome Randle, who starred at Cal, come to mind. I remember 5-7 Rashon Burno out of St. Anthony's High School in Jersey City. He came in the same recruiting class as Quentin Richardson, Bobby Simmons and Lance Williams in the late 1990s and started 68 games at point guard for DePaul. Randolph is a more potent version of Burno, who ran a team and defended the heck out of you but was very limited offensively. Randolph has those special characteristics.

Now he's looking to show them off.

"I waited my turn," says Randolph, who is poised to take over the point guard duties at Whitney Young. "Listening is the key to success. I have listened to my coaches and those around me, and I feel I'm ready to do the things that are expected of me. I just want to be a leader. I want to make my teammates better."

And as far as the negatives and questions he hears about his height disadvantage?

"My heart makes up for my height," Randolph says matter-of-factly. "Hearing that is certainly a motivation for me. Don't tell me I'm too small."

The Hoops Report won't. Nor should college coaches.

Class of 2012
The Hoops Report's updated Class of 2012 rankings will be out shortly, but here is a sneak peak at the top 10.
1. Jay Simpson, 6-8, PF, Champaign Central
2. Derrick Randolph, 5-6, PG, Chicago Whitney Young
3. Aaron Simpson, 5-10, 2G, North Chicago
4. Charles Harris, 6-4, 2G/WF, Lake Forest (Academy)
5. Bobo Drummond, 5-10, PG, Peoria (Central)
6. Tim Williams, 6-7, WF, Homewood-Flossmoor
7. Jerron Wilbut, 6-2, 2G, Downers Grove (South)
8. Steve Taylor, 6-7, PF, Chicago Simeon
9. C.J. Jones, 6-0, 2G, Chicago (Orr)
10. Keith Carter, 6-0, PG, Maywood (Proviso East)

A recap of what the Hoops Report took in this past weekend at the Spiece Run-N-Slam Tournament will follow later this week.

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18 Comments

Ahead of the curve again Joe! You right on my man with lil Derrick. He a monsta! And only 5-6!!!!! He can play.

If Jay Simpson is the top player in the class and Randolph is the second best this is a really bad class.

JOE: Question for you. If you could project where the 2012 guys would be in the 2011 class that would be great. Where would the top guys fall in the 2011 rankings? Thanks if you can.

Pretty high praise for a player who didnt play the second half of his high school season and may miss the first part of next season. Ask his teammates what they really think of him.

To JoJo,
Ask anyone and they will tell you Derrick Randolph was the best guard in that school last year. It just so happens he didn't take care of things off the court. Doesn't make him less of a player. Whitney Young may have won a state title if he was running the point.

I saw him play at the Proviso West tournament and WY lost nothing with this player on the court. He is just as Joe stated. Let's be honest, a player of his size has to have some other-worldly skills in other areas to make up for his lack of height. Randolph is beyond fast with the ball, is not giving up the ball off the dribble, makes excellent decisions and passes the ball very well, plays excellent defense. That annoying, drives you crazy kind of defense because you know he can play that way all day. Not just in spurts. All of which makes him a terrific point guard, plus he can shoot.

Not sure what his issues are in school, but I hope he gets his mind right in the classroom. He can flat out play and I hope to catch him in some tournaments this summer and during the high school season next year.

Joe.. Again where is Akeem Springs? Contributor on 2 back to back state qualifiers. Acutally contributed as a freshman then came on to start as a sophmore. Played with the best player in the state and held his own time and time again against higher compettion.

Please do not discredit the rest of the Waukegan kids not name Jereme Richmond. They are fine players too

I am biased for sure BUT HAVE YOU SEEN AKEEM SPRINGS of Waukegan? His first two years of high school wow and on the circuit you will see the real deal! 6'3 strong combo guard. He is being recruited by Wisconsin and the rest of the big ten. He is getting SEC love do to his play at AAU national in 09. He has an offer from Indiana State. He has a gpa of plus four on a four scale. He also is a top football prospect in the State AT QB! Basketball he is the only sophomore and he has played with a McDonalds All AMerican and future pro Jereme Richmond for two years! The list is ok but he is a top five or better! DS

This kid is AMAZING. Saw him play against Simeon sophmores. they lost, but he was runnin the show big time. Kid can flat out BALL.

Randolph is a talent for sure, and while Young is a good school, shouldn't we all be a little more concerned with his grade difficulties than where he ranks on the court? I have trouble rating a guy so high who cannot stay eligible...even at a Young, which has higher standards.

Joe, This is why I hate message boards and blog messages like this because of fans like Doug from Waukegan. Are you kidding me? Akeem Springs a combo guard? A combo guard who can't shoot or dribble with any consistency? I never respond to these things but when I saw that I had to.

Akeem Springs? Are you kidding? Great athlete. But a top five player in the class. I don't think so. Love watching Randolph compete and play. I think high major schools will get on board sooner than later.

Akeem Springs is a good basketball player but I think he's a better football prospect at Quarterback.

Randolph has great handles but no jumpshot. He's a defensive liability and can't finish at the basket because he's too small. His abilities are limited. He's nowhere near the talent level of the kid from Hales who just left California, or even Starks who played ahead of him. Come on Joe...........He only averaged 2 points a game when he was eligible. He's gotta prove it to me. I like the Simeon guards and the Morgan Park pg better.

Be for real here.Tyrone Sherman should be top ten this because this kid can play. Played against Quinn Cook from D.C. Assult and flat out handed it to him. Quinn Cook is top 20 in the nation from class of 2011. But I dont think derrick randolph shoul be number 2 on the list. Hes to small and it limits some parts of his game.

Who you guys are sleep on in this class is Tyrone Sherman and the word is he is going to be better than kevin Dillard. He plays for D-wade's team "Illinios Flash". Watch out for him, because he could easily enter in the top ten.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on May 2, 2010 8:38 PM.

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