Rock Island Guard Chasson Randle Chooses Stanford over Illinois, Purdue


Making a decision a bit earlier than previously suggested, Rock Island senior guard Chasson Randle announced late this afternoon that he will play basketball at Stanford next season.

Randle also was considering scholarship offers from Illinois and Purdue.

While disappointing for Illini fans, Randle’s decision was really not all that surprising, especially when considering the circumstances of his unique recruitment.

In various Sunday Mornings, I have expressed the opinion that Randle would choose Stanford when all was said and done, and that ultimately proved to be the case during a decision process that was atypical of modern-day recruiting.

Unlike many class of 2011 recruits who have already given verbal commitments, Randle wisely took his time when making a decision that was based on more than basketball but life after the game.

Randle wants to be a doctor someday, and Stanford offers him the best of both worlds in terms of academics and athletics, not that Illinois or Purdue are lacking off the court.

Of course, playing time was a major factor as well in Randle’s situation.

Quite simply, Illinois and Purdue are going to be loaded at the guard positions in upcoming years.

In the case of the Illini, Randle would likely not have been a candidate to start until his junior season with players like Crandall Head, Joseph Bertrand and class of 2011 commitments Tracy Abrams and Mycheal Henry expected to still be in Champaign then.

Being perfectly honest, Illinois head coach Bruce Weber has yet to show that he can develop a deep bench (not that he’s had a team as deep as the 2010-2011 squad) so choosing the Illini would have been a risky position for Randle despite all of his familiarity with the program.

While Illinois is likely to have much team success in the next few seasons, there are still only so many minutes to go around.

Randle reportedly also wants to play point guard in college, which is what Abrams has played at Mount Carmel. I’ll make the argument that all guards on the Illinois roster are going to need to develop point and shooting guard skills to separate themselves from the rest of the pack during the next couple of seasons.

Last but not least, Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins was an All-American guard at Duke and knows the position extremely well. Dawkins will be a great mentor for Randle, who should play immediately at Stanford.

Additionally, the Pac-10 has traditionally been good to recruits from the state of Illinois. Look at players like Jerome Randle, a Chicago product from Hales Franciscan who won the 2010 Pac-10 Player of the Year award at California, and Matt Lottich, a 1999 New Trier graduate who went to Stanford and started on a #1-seed Cardinal team in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

In other words, Pac-10 schools usually don’t get players from the state of Illinois (with the exception of Oregon when Ernie Kent was head coach), so Randle is a huge, huge commitment for the Cardinal.

At Illinois, Randle would have been big but still one of many highly-regarded recruits from the state.

All in all, Illinois would have loved to get Randle, who is not only a great player but an outstanding kid.

With that said, the program and its fans should not begrudge Randle for making a very mature decision.

From what I’ve seen reading the comments of some Illini fans, I’m happy to report that most if not all of them have been very gracious, which is good to see because we are talking about 17- and 18-year-old kids here.

I wish Randle the best of luck at Stanford. He made a tough decision and did so in a very classy fashion.

With Randle off to Palo Alto, the Illini reportedly will bring Alabama prep guard Devin Langford to campus this weekend for his official visit.

Of course, prep forward Mike Shaw of Chicago’s De La Salle is going to announce where he’s attending college tomorrow afternoon, reportedly around 3 p.m.

Shaw is considering Illinois, DePaul and Marquette.

While I’ve predicted Shaw to DePaul during the last couple of months, reports since Monday have said that he will choose the Illini.

Considering that Illinois will lose Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis after this season, Shaw would be a great interior addition, even if his game is more geared for the outside at this point of his career.

With that said, I’m making no assumptions until Shaw officially announces his decision.

Ultimately, commitments from both Shaw and Randle would have been a grand slam for the Illini.

Getting one or the other would still be a coup for an already strong 2011 recruiting class.

While Shaw makes more sense in terms of positional needs, Randle is such a special kid that he would have been a huge addition in my opinion.

Regardless of what Shaw decides tomorrow, Illinois recruiting has been phenomenal during the last couple of seasons, beginning with the prep class of 2009 (Bertrand, D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul and Tyler Griffey) and ramping up with the current freshman class (Head, Jereme Richmond and Meyers Leonard).

Thanks to Weber and his staff readjusting how they recruit, and then attacking the recruiting game with much ferocity, Illinois has stockpiled a boatload of talent to do very some big things, possibly beginning this season but more likely in 2011-2012.