By Joe Henricksen
Yes, it went the distance. In the end, however, Rock Island's Chasson Randle decided distance wasn't going to hold him back. The talented 6-2 combo guard committed to Stanford and coach Johnny Dawkins on Wednesday, ending a long recruiting process that left Illinois and Purdue on the short end.
The Randle recruitment was a little different than most, simply because Randle is a little different than most top prospects. Randle is a down-to-earth, well-rounded, mature player who carries himself a little differently than most hotshot high school basketball players.
There are plenty of prospects who say all the right things about seeking the best fit, finding the right opportunity, seeing all a school has to offer socially, academically and athletically. In reality, though, it's about getting PT, being seen on TV and connecting with the coach and players in the program for most of these prospects. With Randle, however, it was all legit. Randle's process more resembled an adult making a life-changing decision -- like finding a life partner and wondering if it was time to pop the question ... or whether or not to take a new job and move the family across the country ... or to live life by logic or instinct. This was not a typical wishy-washy, puzzling teen making an uninformed decision.
While academics is typically mentioned by prospects (amusing when some of the schools kids commit to and sign with are not exactly recognized as stellar academic institutions), with Randle it was imperative to have the perfect academic fit. He's an elite student who has big plans for his future, whether that's with or without basketball.
What Dawkins and the Stanford program can truly be excited about in securing Chasson Randle is bringing in a player that possesses the whole package. Stanford has locked in a player it knows will go to class, thrive academically, graduate and bring zero risk in terms of character. Randle will bring intangibles that are so often lacking in today's student-athletes. In the world of big-time college athletics and recruiting, Randle is the anti-hot shot prep athlete.
As a player, Randle has truly matured over the past 12 months and grown to be more assertive and certainly more confident. A lot of that has to do with his time the past two summers playing with his age group's U.S. National Team and on the AAU circuit with the Illlinois Wolves. The 6-2 combo guard brings versatility, with the ability to slash and glide to the basket, knock down a shot, defend on the perimeter while creating and distributing when asked.
Randle built a strong relationship and respect for Dawkins and the Stanford staff. That connection, along with the academics and prestige of Stanford, certainly won out over playing for a potential basketball powerhouse. Stanford went just 14-18 a year ago in a Pac-10 Conference that sent just two teams to the NCAA Tournament and is picked to finish near the bottom of the conference this season. However, Stanford did nab a top 15 recruiting class a year ago, now adds a top 100 talent in Randle in 2011 and isn't too far removed from some basketball success.