Randle stands tall for MVP award
A player Adelaide coach Joey Wright stumbled across on the internet could carry off the National Basketball League's highest individual player honour tonight despite missing several games during the season.
Adelaide 36ers import guard Jerome Randle is one of the favourites along with Illawarra trio Kevin Lisch, AJ Ogilvy and Kirk Penny to take out the prestigious award at a gala dinner in Melbourne.
It would be an amazing performance given the pint-sized Randle arrived after the season started and also missed another three games with a knee injury just before the playoffs.
Wright found a video of Randle on a friend's Facebook page while searching for a player to replace injured import Kenyon McNeail, and then contacted his agent who rushed him out to Australia.
"I look at all the player videos I see on the internet and Jerome's was very impressive," Wright told APN.
But even Wright admits he was not expecting what the 175cm Chicago-born point guard delivered Adelaide, proving to be the most electrifying player to get off a plane since Leroy Loggins in the early 1980s.
Randle dominated most of Adelaide's wins.
And because his main rivals, Lisch, Ogilvy and Penny, all play for the same team, they often split votes.
Understandably Wright is keen to keep Randle on his roster next season.
But he admits he would not be surprised if the 28-year-old magician had another crack at the NBA despite concerns his is too small.
"There's been guys his size play in the NBA before," Wright said.
"He's a special player, a little unique. Obviously I'd like him to stay in Adelaide if possible."
Randle, the Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2010, graduated from the University of California-Berkeley as its all-time leading point scorer.
He admits he and his manager screwed up their big chance to break into the NBA several years ago when a plan to dodge the second round of the draft backfired.
"Two teams called on draft night and I turned them down," Randle told reporters soon after arriving in Australia.
"That is still the worst decision of my life. I regret it and I've never been able to bounce back (on to the NBA radar)."
Former Brisbane Bullets MVP Derek Rucker said he would have hated to have defended Randle in his playing days.
"He is absolutely electrifying and was clearly the NBL's entertainer of the year," Rucker told APN.
"He is so fast, low to the ground and tough to deal with. He would have been a nightmare to defend."
Melbourne United hosts the NZ Breakers in the first game of the NBL playoffs tomorrow night.
2006 Chris Anstey (Melb Tigers)
2007 Sam Mackinnon (Bris Bullets)
2008 Chris Anstey (Melb Tigers)
2009 Kirk Penney (NZ Breakers)
2010 Corey Williams (Towns Crocs)
2011 Gary Ervin (Illa Hawks)
2012 Kevin Lisch (Perth Wildcats)
2013 Cedric Jackson (NZ Breakers)
2014 Rotnei Clarke (Illa Hawks)
2015 Brian Conklin (Towns Crocs)