By Joe Henricksen

Chasson needs to be in conversation ... Here's why

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By Joe Henricksen

The folks on the East Side of Aurora and those at 111th and Vincennes on the South Side of Chicago may not want to hear it. Those fans enjoying the 50-plus point explosions may shrug at the notion. And everyone who's engaged in the constant blather of those players talking of their own Mr. Basketball candidacy may not even listen. But the Mr. Basketball Award chase is not just a two-man race.

And the one we should take a closer look at is (gasp!) -- outside the Chicago area.

Rock Island's Chasson Randle, who spurned Illinois and chose Stanford just prior to the November signing period, should be given serious consideration for Mr. Basketball.

For starters, Randle's Rock Island team is 12-1 on the year, with its lone loss coming to unbeaten Peoria Notre Dame. The Rocks are a threat in Class 3A and capable of reaching Peoria this March. Thus, the team success and validation will be there.

Statistically, Randle won't be putting up the gaudy offensive point totals East Aurora's Ryan Boatright, who is averaging just under 32 points a game, Morgan Park's Wayne Blackshear or even Orr's Mycheal Henry will put on the board the rest of the way. Randle's game isn't built that way. But consider this ...

Randle is averaging 22 points a game -- and has only taken 182 shots all season. That's just 14 shot attempts a game. For comparison, Blackshear took 33 shots in an 82-56 blowout win over Fenwick in the opening game of the Proviso West Holiday Tournament en route to his headline-grabbing 40-point total. And in 12 games, Boatright has taken 93 three-point shots alone.

In addition to his 22 points a night, Randle is averaging 7.4 rebounds, 3 assists and over 2 steals a game. He takes what opponents and the Rock Island offense give him, rarely forcing shots for a team with three other players averaging right around 10 points a game. He's steady and consistent, with a season-high 32 points and scoring at least 20 points in every game but three.

But there's more.

Should the way a player carries and handles himself on and off the floor count for something? Randle is about as unassuming of a star as there is in high school basketball. The confidence has grown but there is zero bravado. Plus, he has a 4.0 GPA while taking advanced curriculum and is on pace to be tied for No. 1 in the senior class. Character and academics are rarely (if ever) mentioned when it comes to the Mr. Basketball Award, but in this day of the look-at-me-now attitude, maybe it should.

There was a reason Randle was selected to play for the U.S. National Team for his age group the past two summers -- the only player from Illinois to do so. He's a high-major college prospect who does a little of everything on the floor. He's an ideal teammate that fit the national team mold, willing to sacrifice and accept a role among other great talents.

It's that national team exposure and experience that, in the eyes of the Hoops Report, has turned Randle into a much more assertive and confident player and prospect. When watching Randle, he's clearly a different player than he was a year ago or even this summer. He's playing at a higher level than everyone on the floor. He's more complete, more impressive. The sometimes nonchalant, passive style he showed in the past is now decidedly different. Now it's an impressive way of understanding situations and finding the balance between knowing when to create for himself and when to create for his teammates.

This isn't to say Boatright or Blackshear aren't deserving candidates. They are both fabulous talents who are worth the price of admission. In fact, Boatright is probably one of the five or six most exciting players the Hoops Report has watched in the last 15 or 20 years. And Blackshear is the bonafide star player for one of the top Class 3A in Illinois. And if Orr can get things turned around and go on a run, Henry could vault himself back into the mix as well. But Randle, despite playing outside the Chicago media market and lacking 50-point explosions, is right there with the Chicago area darlings.

So go ahead and mark Saturday, Feb. 19 on the calendar and make the trip to UIC's Pavilion. That's where two Class 3A title contending teams, Rock Island and Morgan Park and their two stars -- Blackshear and Randle -- will square off in the middle game of the City-Suburban Showdown tripleheader. The matchup not only pairs two teams that could potentially meet in Peoria a month later, but it's also a big stage for two of the state's elite players to shine on.

It's been quite some time since the Mr. Basketball race included as lengthy a list of worthy candidates who were playing at such a high level. This year the Mr. Basketball race is as good as it's been in years. It just needs to include Rock Island's Chasson Randle.

For more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, now in its 16th year of publication, email hoopsreport@yahoo.com or call (630)-408-6709

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18 Comments

Joe once again great stuff. Being from the Quad Cities, I'm admittedly a bit biased, but Chasson is in a class by himself when it comes to top players from this area in the last twenty years, if not longer. I'm including Ricky Davis, who prepped at Davenport North. The intangibles Chay brings to the table, on and off the court, are what separate him from the others. Thanks for giving him the props he deserves.

Damn straight! Tired of this group of yappers always talking about how they want to win this award and be player of the year. What happened to talking about winning and letting everything else take care of itself. Way to set it straight and point out a player.

Chasson is nice and all but it still goes 1. Blackshear, 2. Boatright 3. Henry

Blcakshear did take a lot of shots in the 40 point output, what really bothered me was the fact that he was in the game until 2 minutes were left and they were still picking up Fenwick in a full court press up by 25 points. I think he is a talented player, and probably will be in the top two when the voting is done. Boatright is talented as well, the impressive thing is that he can take over a game at his size. Randle may be the most successful on the next level because he is already able to be very successful without having to shoot the ball 30 times a game. It should be an interesting second half of the season for all of the players mentioned.

The letting players shoot at will with some of these guys should go against them. But I guess its about numbers typically.

Chasson Randle is the only guy on this list of players that truly gets it in my opinion. Understands how the game should be played. Willingly does what is best for the team and makes those around him better. Nothing against those other guys but he Randle is the ultimate player in every sense of the word. And I hope playing outside the Chicago area or the fact he doesn't put up numbers like the others do doesn't hurt him in Mr. Basketball voting.

I really wish Illinois could have landed Chasson Randle. Sounds like he is more of a ready to go type of player as a freshman than a lot of other players. Maybe not the upside as a lot of them but a guy who will really help you win for four years. Really nice job of describing Randle and his abilities and reasons why he should be considered, by the way, in this story.

Yeah killing it vs. Ellison for 53 points and a triple double does nothing for me as blackshear did. Come on man! I could pick a number of players and put them in that game and let them do their thing and they would come out with similar numbers.

As always, you get it Joe. Chasson will not win the award because of the reasons you mention, but the fact the Chicago media is giving him his dues is enough for this Rocky grad. He's more impressive off the court than he is on it, and that says a lot.

Has a non-Chicago player ever gotten as much (well deserved) pub?

Joe...what about Sobolewski for Mr. Basketball?

Joe...what about Sobolewski for Mr. Basketball? No chance?

Joe....what about Sobolewski for MVP?

As is usually the case when I read stuff here you have hit things right on the head in regard to Chasson Randle. Couldn't have put it better myself as I have been a big fan of this kid for awhile after watching play with the Wolves and with his high school team. I am glad he picked the school he wanted to go to but for selfish reasons i wish he had stayed closer to home and played in at least the midwest. Why wasn't Northwestern a more viable option with its education? I don't think Northwestern wins big until it can land kids like that from our very own state. Great talents who are also interested in academics. Sobolewski is nice and all but he isn't a difference maker at the Big Ten level.

I haven't seen Randle play yet. I will check him out on February 19th. But folks stop putting down the other players like Blackshear and Boatright. Blackshear is not a prima donna at all. I have talked to him on a couple of occasions and he is a good but confident kid. Talking up Randle is good but don't put the other kids down in the process. Most of you do not know Boatright or Blackshear personally. It's hard to know any of these athletes personally. So please keep your negative comments about the other players to yourself.

Joe,
Another exceptional article. I think the rest of the media and selection committee need to read this article before they make their POY selection. It is easy to see Randle is head a shoulders above the field....Thanks and keep up the good work.

In regard to Tim from Evanston's comment: I agree with what you said but I think its more a reflection on a couple of things when it comes to Boatright and blackshear. The first is the fact a lot of people i think are really referencing the coach of Blackshear who is doing all he can to take advantage of some poor teams by running up point totals for this star. The second thing, which I agree with, is I don't ever recall players talking about their player of the year award hopes in December and January. Blackshear will win this thing I bet.

Crazy how Anthony Davis is the best player in the state but because he plays for such an awful team we hardly ever hear about him. Kind of sad in that he doesn't get an opportunity to play for much his senior year. Hope he still enjoys playing with this group as I'm glad he did stick it out with his original school.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on January 7, 2011 8:47 AM.

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