Jerome Randle's first season in the Basketball Africa League
will coincide with his last as a professional basketball
Shortly after his BAL debut with U.S. Monastir of Tunisia in a
winning effort over Stade Malien of Mali, Randle announced the news
over the phone.
"I'm retiring after this year," Randle revealed to Basketball
News. "There's so many things that I'm into right now as far as
building my brand to help kids and training and developing and
things like that. I had an opportunity to go to Spain and play in
the [LIGA] ACB. I mean, I've played there before. But it's like,
okay, I've never been to Africa. I wanted to (go). Why not
experience something like this, to play in Africa?
"And the BAL is a respectful situation and I'm enjoying myself.
I'm shaking a lot of hands and creating a lot of relationships for
the things that I want to do as well, so it's also a business
decision as well. I'm excited about it, man. I'm talking to a lot
of people that are making sure I'm involved in this because it's a
lot of potential. I know the talent is only gonna get better. We're
just gonna see what happens."
The Chicago native is a former California Golden Bears standout
who won the then-Pac-10 Player of the Year award in 2010 and built
an outstanding career from that point on. Aside from brief stints
in summer league, the then-D League and exhibition games, Randle
did not step foot on an NBA court in the regular season. What he
did do, however, was carve his own successful career path.
From 2011 to now, Randle has played in Ukraine, Israel, Russia,
Belgium, Turkey, Australia, Lithuania, France, Germany, Spain and,
now, Africa. He's been a Turkish League All-Star, an LKL Champion
and an NBL MVP and two-time scoring champion (and an assist leader)
to name a few of his accolades.
With his final season as a pro underway, Randle spoke to
Basketball News about his decision to join the BAL, the talent in
Africa, his UNLMTED brand, the current state of Cal
basketball and more.
You just made your BAL debut with U.S. Monastir on
Sunday, dropping 18 points and 8 assists in 34 minutes. Was it what
Jerome Randle: "It was cool, man. The old man
still can move. I'm 35. These young guys, they run up and down this
court. They've got me really putting in work two days before just
to prepare for a game. But I take care of my body, so I Iove it.
I'm loving what they're doing with it. This is the third year,
third season. Just imagine what's gonna happen the next two years
or three years. Man, it's gonna be something that's bigger than
anything people could ever imagine, especially just being in
Africa. So, I'm excited for what's to come."
The game of basketball is global, and the BAL is helping
African talent get discovered. The last three years has given these
players another level of exposure. How do you feel about
Randle: "We just had a meeting about something
like that. You have so many countries out here with talent (and
those players) just don't get the opportunity to go to college or
even go to high school. So for me, that's my vision. My vision is
to create a program where kids are able to showcase their talent,
have the exposure that they need just to be seen, and put them in
the position where they can go to high school or prep school and be
a collegiate athlete.
"So me being over here, seeing a 16-year-old, 7-foot-2 kid who
has so much potential [Khaman Maluach], it's like, only guys like
that are being seen when you have so many other talented players
that will probably be a lot more successful had they gotten their
opportunity, and not because they're 7-2. The reason why I'm so
passionate about it's because the odds was stacked up against me at
5-foot-9. So, I want to look out for the younger, smaller guys that
people don't look at as being the potential NBA player and things
like that. Because there's so many opportunities outside of the NBA
that we have to find a way to utilize."
What are your goals with U.S. Monastir and individually
since it's your last season?
Randle: "I want to win the BAL. That's my goal.
I signed with the team just so I can have a day-to-day 'cause I
could've just signed with them only for the BAL, but it was like,
'Okay, let me just go in and just play,' just have that everyday
regimen just to workout, play a couple games with Tunisia [in
February's Intercontinental Cup].
"Obviously, I would never sign in Tunisia, but it was because
they were affiliated with the BAL (that I did). So I took a chance,
and I'm enjoying my time. The guys are cool. It's good to just meet
new people, man. It's always good to be on another side of the
world and meet great people, and I have met them."
Who on your team stands out to you?
Randle: "One that I like more so for his energy
and positivity is this guy Lassaad (Chouaya). He's just always
working hard, man, no matter what. We connected the first time I
stepped foot in Tunisia just because he was a positive guy, he
wanted to work hard. I'm going to the gym two, three hours before
practice (and) he's right there just putting in the work. I can
only relate to guys who work hard."
You are one of eight ex-G League talents and 18 former
Division I college athletes playing in the Sahara Conference
currently. Is there anybody you've competed against or previously
played with that you have crossed paths with?
Randle: "No. I can't say I have seen anyone
that I've actually played with or against in the BAL from the G
League. I was only in the G League for a small, small time. It
wasn't that long, but I went over to Ukraine right after that. My
experience in the G League, the D-League at that time, it was okay.
That's when I left the [Dallas] Mavericks [affiliate Texas Legends]
and I went over to the Maine Red Claws.
"The experience was... I guess my thought process was (it's)
them developing you to make it to the NBA, and it just wasn't like
that at that particular time. So, I decided to go overseas and
play. I probably should've stayed, probably would've gave myself a
better opportunity to make it to the NBA had I stayed there. But
there were other things that I needed to do."
You mentioned there are things you want to do after your
career is finished this year. Could you go into detail about what
you're aiming for?
Randle: "Well, I have a brand called UNLMTED. What it means is: Uniquely Navigating Life
Molds Tenacity Endurance and Determination. Basically, that's my
life story. My story's coming out, just about my career and the
things that I've been through over 13, 14 years of just being a
professional athlete — all the ups and downs and everything that I
had to go through.
"People ask me all the time, 'Man, why are you not in the NBA?'
I just feel like now it's time to just break my silence on a lot of
things that's happened, a lot of things that I experienced. And
those experiences is gonna help a lot of kids that's coming up that
want to be a professional athlete. It's developing and doing
clinics, camps all over the world, man. It's just teaching kids a
different type of way and understanding what discipline and that
mentality, that Mamba Mentality. All of that stuff plays a part in
what they want to do, if they follow a code."
Does this time of year take you back to your college
days in Berkeley?
Randle: "Yeah, but it'll only bring back
memories when Cal is back on the map. I'm a little bit irritated
with this whole college March Madness thing because I need to get
my school back to where it needs to be."
What do you think that's going to take?
Randle: "I just think times have changed now.
Times have definitely changed. The whole dynamic of what college
basketball used to be, it's not what it is right now. You have the
NIL, you have all sorts of things that play against Cal being one
of those places where people want to go. Because we go by a certain
type of standard.
"And I feel like once Cuonzo (Martin) left — we had Jaylen
Brown, we had a lot of those guys — I just feel like (after that)
was just a rough patch. I feel like Mark Fox did a good job with
what he had, and now we have to figure out a way to get someone in
there that understands what the culture is right now, what's going
on, how to play this game to get players in there."
Do you keep up with your old Cal teammates and talk
Randle: "We speak. I think everybody is more
involved now because just that Cal pride is something that we all
want. It's like, when you hear about Cal, it's like we don't have
nothing to talk about right now 'cause they're not even competing
to the point where we really can just say, 'Okay, (there's) that
Cal pride (where) we're gonna be in the [NCAA] tournament.' It's
just not like that no more right now. We're gonna get back. We're
all gonna be positive about the situation 'cause I'm sure it's
Final question: What was the most important and
beneficial experience of your career and why?
Randle: "The struggles, man. The struggles and
dealing with everything that comes with being a professional
basketball player. I mean, basketball is the easy thing. Either
you're gonna make or you're gonna miss a shot. You're gonna be a
defensive player or you're not. You know what I'm saying? It's
white and black. It's nothing too complicated. From the obstacles
and everything that you deal with, the problems that you deal with,
(they) make you appreciate so much more in life.
"I go by that. I go by that whole thing about just appreciating
the process... I try my best to help as many kids as I possibly
can. I can talk about as many countries as I want to, what I like
best about 'em, but I only appreciate the things that's happened
that I can learn from and help kids that's growing up."