RANDLE LOOKING FOR LONG-AWAITED NBA CHANCE
LAS VEGAS – Jerome Randle, a reserve on the Clippers’ Summer League team, knows how to score.
He has more points than anyone in the history of the University of California-Berkeley. Scoring has always come naturally for the 5-foot-10 point guard.
It’s proving that he’s more than that which has become Randle’s most ardent challenge.
“I know I can score the basketball,” Randle said. “I think a lot of people know me as a scorer, but they want to see me run a team.”
Randle notched eight assists in 23 minutes off the bench for the Clippers Sunday and has 11 in two games in Las Vegas. He is strong and quick and has a knack for playing bigger than his diminutive stature.
“I know how I am,” Randle said, “I’ve been a scorer my whole life. I know how to get some shots. I know how to get buckets when I really need one.”
He proved that in the Clippers’ opener against the Atlanta Hawks when he found his way into the lane and banked in a layup over two defenders. But for Randle it’s about more than proving a known commodity. It’s about proving what teams don’t know about him.
“Today, I really wanted to focus on defense,” Randle said after Sunday’s game. “I think I did a great job pressuring the ball and a great job of trying to distribute and making guys just smile with the passes I was giving them.”
Randle, 26, played four seasons at Cal, winning Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2009-10. In the Bay Area he was not asked to distribute as much as simply give the Golden Bears whatever offensive spark they needed. Since then, his journey has been a series of brief, winding stops. It is as though Randle’s train has yet to find its station.
He played in Belgium and Israel and Turkey. He split part of the 2011-12 season between Maine and Texas in the NBA D-League and another segment of it between Ukraine and China. Three out of the last four summers he’s been in Las Vegas, trying to earn his way onto an NBA roster. The closest he came was in December 2011, immediately after the lockout, when he spent eight days in training camp with the Dallas Mavericks.
“It’s been tough for me,” Randle said. “It’s been two-and-a-half years, going on three years. I mean, coming out of college with the accolades and things that I had, I felt like I should have been there. I don’t know. I hope this time around someone will give me a shot because I feel like I have a lot to offer teams.”
Randle grew up on Chicago’s rugged South Side, a place he has both chastised and credited. He cousin, Marchello Henderson, was one of several people shot and killed near the 5700 block of South Union Avenue on Fourth of July weekend four years ago, when Randle was home visiting between his junior and senior seasons at Cal. According to city crime statistics, some 506 people were murdered in Chicago in 2012, a number that has increased annually in the latter half of the last dozen years.
The violence and tragedy in his hometown has given Randle somewhat of a serrated edge. But it has also helped him endure his long basketball path that he hopes eventually leads to the NBA.
“I’m from Chicago,” Randle said when asked how he’s stayed confident in himself. “If you don’t have confidence and you’re from Inglewood or Chicago, then I don’t know what to tell you. I just have it. It’s in me, man. Growing up how I grew up, I have to have confidence. It’s basketball. It’s something you’ve been playing your whole life.
“I’m hoping this year is when I can finally get a shot.”