June 21, 2009
Professional basketball dreams don''t have size requirements.
If they did, Javon Randolph still would find a way to make an impression.
The former men''s basketball standout at Savannah State did just that Saturday night at Columbus High School.
Randolph scored 23 of his 25 points in the second half to help the Buford Majic defeat the Tupelo Rock-n-Rollers 99-94 in a World Basketball Association Exposure League game.
"I took it upon myself," Randolph said. "I was kind of frustrated after the first half. I had some good looks but they just weren''t falling. In the second half I just tried to gather myself and take those same shots and they just started falling."
Randolph scored 16 points in the fourth quarter to help the Majic (8-1) rebound from their first loss of the season Friday night at Cartersville.
The 5-foot-10 guard from Gainesville, Ga., heard it from the fans at Columbus High. One fan sitting in the front row on the other side of the court chided Randolph for being "too small" after he was whistled for a foul on former Mississippi State standout Darryl Wilson.
Randolph said he has gotten used to hearing remarks like that from fans and has learned how to put them out of his mind.
"I have been taught that people are going to talk to you crazy and try to get you frustrated and out of your game," Randolph said. "If it was about me being short, people like Allen Iverson wouldn''t be in the NBA."
Wilson (15 points) converted the two free throws on Randolph''s foul, his fifth of the game.
Tupelo coach Brian Alexander, a former assistant coach at Columbus High, held a copy of the WBA Exposure League rules after the game that said a player is disqualified on his fifth foul. But Alexander said the officials told him they had been instructed by the league commissioner that a player is out of the game on his sixth foul.
Alexander said the league hadn''t contacted the Rock-n-Rollers (5-3) about that change.
Randolph added a layup with 1 minute, 57 seconds remaining and two more free throws with 24.2 seconds to play that helped the Majic hold on to first place.
Alexander said the ruling on Randolph''s fifth foul didn''t cost his team the game.
"We lost because our intensity wasn''t where it needed to have been from the start," said Alexander, an assistant basketball coach at Itawamba Community College. "As a coach you have to get your guys up and ready to go, and I didn''t do a good job of that tonight."
Buford coach David Akin said Randolph played a key role Saturday because the Majic were without Wayne Arnold and B.J. Puckett, two of their better players. He said Randolph does a fantastic job juggling responsibilities as a point guard and as a shooting guard.
"It is amazing what he actually does on the floor," Akin said. "It is a shame he is only 5-10 or 5-11. He is one of those guys, and we all know one or two of them, if they''re is 6-3 or 6-4, they''re really a special player, but Javon was huge for us tonight."
Akin said Randolph has the heart "the size of a lion." He said getting posted up every game used to frustrate him. Now, he said, that defensive work is fueling his offense.
"He is one of those guys where you can''t keep the man down," Akin said. "There is nothing that is going to come into the game that he can''t handle."
Randolph, 24, graduated from Savannah State in 2007. He said he is just getting back into basketball and working with his mentor and his teammate Adrian Penland (game-high 26 points). He hopes his experience in the WBA Exposure League can help him land a job overseas. He believes his showing so far will help him realize that goal.
Alexander believes it, too.
"He is the best point guard in the league," Alexander said. "He is deceptively quick and he is very good at getting the basketball into the paint area and drawing help. He also is a good enough shooter that you have to respect him out there. With the NBA 3-point line being out at 23 feet, that is a lot of space to cover."
Former University of Mississippi standout Jason Smith paced Tupelo with 22 points. O''Brian Lowe added 16 and Courtney Bradley had 14.
Former Aberdeen High standout Chris Sykes had eight points in limited duty due to foul trouble, and former Columbus High standout Elmo Brown added seven points for the Rock-n-Rollers.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.