Photo by Brigham Berthold
It’s not often a college basketball player leaves the packed gyms of the powerhouse Big East for the Western Athletic Conference, but junior guard Brandon Randolph did just that when he made the decision to come to Utah Valley University.
Randolph began his college career with the Xavier Musketeers, a perennial college basketball powerhouse that made a run to the Sweet 16 his sophomore season. Coming from a power conference, Randolph brings a bevy of experience playing against strong opponents in hostile environments that will benefit UVU as the squad’s floor general. He’s dealt with the adversity that comes with the environment and can help his teammates deal with it as well.
“The main thing is adversity,” Randolph said. “I’ve dealt with it so much in big games. One day I’m playing against Georgetown then Villanova, so I know how to pretty much bounce back if we were to lose one.”
The big-game experience Randolph has brought to UVU has already paid dividends. Randolph played a major role in the Wolverines’ upset victory over BYU at the Marriott Center Nov. 26 when he was just shy of a triple-double with 21 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds.
Aside from his experience playing high-caliber college basketball, Randolph has an outstanding ability to move the ball up the court effectively and get the rest of his teammates involved in the game.
“He makes a lot of things really easy for us,” head coach Mark Pope said. “He’s kind of a one-man press breaker, for example. It’s hard to take the ball away from him; he’s a help creator, in terms of, he’s talented at getting more guys. He’s obviously shown to be a great rebounder from the point guard spot, we need him to keep doing that, but that’s a huge luxury because it ignites our break.”
On a team loaded with shooters, Randolph praises his teammates for taking some of the scoring load off his shoulders.
“I’m not just the main person they’re going to have to focus on, we have shooters,” he said. “I’ve never played with this many good shooters. Even our five or our four. I never played with a four that can shoot the ball probably better than I can.”
Guards Conner Toolson and Jordan Poydras benefit from Randolph’s ability to draw the attention of defenders by driving to the hoop then passing out to the perimeter.
“He’s really good at getting in the paint, so people have to help off us to stop him so he kicks it out to us for open shots and we just knock it down,” Poydras said.
Toolson feels Randolph’s skill set is perfect for the players surrounding him, because his abilities complement the rest of the team.
“I think there’s no better team for him to be on than UVU because all he has is shooters around him, so he drives and he’s able to get us open shots,” Toolson said. “So it works for us to be on his team, it works for him to be on our team as well, because we help each other out a lot.”
In a young season, Randolph has shown tremendous ability at the point guard position for UVU, but Pope believes he has a long way to go before he reaches his ceiling.
“I think he’s grown a ton in the area of how he communicates, how he manages his emotions on the floor, how he communicates with his teammates,” Pope said. “He’s grown so much; he’s had a lot of room to grow and he still has a lot of room to grow.”
I’m a Pacific Northwest guy who loves his Pacific Northwest sports. An amateur movie buff who prefers the disc to digital. Chasing the sports writing dream while I geek out on Assassin’s Creed.