Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins landed a good one Wednesday with the verbal commitment of ESPNU's No. 9-ranked point guard, Chasson Randle (Rock Island, Ill./Rock Island H.S.). The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder chose the Pac-10 program over in-state Illinois and Purdue.
"I chose Stanford because the program is growing, and it's a great fit both academically and athletically," said Randle, who is an honors student carrying a 4.0 GPA. "I wanted the chance to learn the point guard position from one of the greats in Coach Dawkins [Duke's second all-time leading scorer]."
Throughout most of his career, Randle has been a 2 guard, but over the past year, he has made a concerted effort to convert himself to a point guard. He has the fundamentals, skill and basketball IQ to play the point. What he needs to learn about the position -- and it is the most important attribute -- is to think and play at the same time. He needs to be able to use his instincts at a moment's notice while thinking for himself, for what the team needs and for what the coach wants.
What Randle does well now is make plays in both transition and the half-court set. When it comes to the transition game, he can push the ball with speed and is a threat to score with the ball in his hands or find an open teammate for an easy basket. In the half court, he also can score off the dribble and hit open jumpers out to the 3-point line, although he can be streaky. Defensively, Randle has a 6-7 wingspan, and with that type of length, he can be a harassing figure when pressuring the ball. He is a good, not great athlete, who demonstrates the quickness and the desire to keep his man out of the lane.
Randle's decision of the Cardinal over the Illini, whom he loved growing up, and Purdue, to which he also was attracted, was not an easy one.
"The hardest part of the [recruiting] process for me was growing up and watching Luther Head, Deron Williams and Dee Brown lead Illinois to the Final Four in 2005 and then deciding to go elsewhere," Randle said.
Randle will be able to play shooting guard right away for Dawkins and gradually move to the point. Stanford is slowly becoming a force in the recuiting world. This past recruiting cycle, the Cardinal had the No. 18-ranked class, highlighted by Dwight Powell and Anthony Brown, and Randle is another great piece to help build Stanford back into a contender.
Paul Biancardi, who has been a head coach and assistant on NCAA tournament teams, is the national director of basketball recruiting. He is also one the voters for the McDonald's All-American Game and Gatorade Player of the Year. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.