Las Vegas Sun

January 21, 2018

Currently: 49° — Complete forecast

Randolph reports for duty — on U.S. national basketball team


Tiffany Brown

Anthony Randolph Jr. parlayed a blistering NBA Summer League performance into a spot on the U.S. national basketball team.

Click to enlarge photo

Anthony Randolph Jr. parlayed a blistering NBA Summer League performance into a spot on the U.S. national basketball team.

Anthony Randolph Jr. got the call to serve his country the other day and quickly called his parents.

Anthony Sr. and Crystal served in the U.S. Army.

“They both cried,” said Junior, who parlayed a blistering NBA Summer League performance into a spot on the U.S. national basketball team. “That I’m able to serve my country, even in a little way, is great.”

Wednesday night, after a team meeting, Randolph went to his room in the Wynn and, with a Team USA trainer at his side, tried on his official No. 62 jersey.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “I looked in the mirror and just started smiling. It’s real special to be here and be considered to represent my country.”

Randolph, a 6-foot-11, 220-pound forward who just finished his first season for the Golden State Warriors, averaged a Summer League-record 26.8 points.

The lefty accumulated many of those points with strong southpaw finishes, and he poured in 42 in one game.

In 2004, at the first Summer League in Las Vegas, Nikoloz Tskitishvili averaged 25.7 points, which stood as the standard until Randolph came to town.

Now, only a few days after the Summer League ended, Randolph is back.

During the first of two practice days at Valley High during Team USA’s mini-camp, which will culminate in a Showcase scrimmage at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday night, he was spotty.

The 20 players were divided into four units, in blue, white, red and yellow, for a series of drills. Randolph wore a yellow top over his blue No. 62 practice jersey.

By the time he attempted his first shot, a mid-range jumper from the right side, he was winded. Not surprisingly, the jumper barely hit the front of the rim.

Then again, Randolph wasn’t alone in spending a few seconds bent over, with his hands on his knees, in the first 10 minutes of the challenging conditioning regimen and competitive environment.

New Jersey center Brook Lopez and Oklahoma City forward Jeff Green also needed to catch their breath with their hands on their knees.

Randolph hit his next shot, a jumper along the right baseline. He clapped his hands, said “Yeah!” to himself and high-fived Utah Jazz guard Ronnie Brewer.

Later, Portland center Greg Oden hounded Randolph in the low post and snatched the rebound; Randolph sank a 3-pointer from the right side and Washington post man JaVale McGee swatted another Randolph 3-point attempt.

Seconds after that embarrassment, though, Randolph banged into McGee down low, demanded the ball and got it, and he flipped in a high hook over the extended, and startled, McGee.

A jumper from the right side missed badly, then Randolph slipped in a 10-foot runner from the left side.

At the start of an eight-minute blue-white scrimmage, Randolph, wearing white, was short on a jumper from the left side. He missed a right-handed hook shot but hit a soft jumper from the left side. The white squad won, 25-17.

“I can’t even find the right words to describe how big it would be,” Randolph said of possibly representing the U.S. in next year’s World Championship in Turkey. “I’d be smiling ear to ear, every single day, like I am now. I’m just excited.”

That only three or four of these mini-camp players likely have shots at playing on the same Team USA squad with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James doesn’t affect Randolph.

“There are so many great players here, like O.J. Mayo and Kevin Durant,” Randolph said. “If I was to make that team, it would be one of the best accomplishments of my life.”

He just turned 20, so Randolph figures to accomplish much more.

His rookie season at Golden State included stretches of inaction, as Warriors coach Don Nelson seemed to teach him how to earn his keep.

It worked, as Randolph showed he could produce toward the end of the season. He scored in double digits in 10 of his final 12 games.

Five of those were double-doubles, in points and boards. Before that flurry, he had recorded only three double-doubles during the season.

“It was a tough season, considering in high school and college I was always the man,” said Randolph, who attended Louisiana State. “I wouldn’t say everything was handed to me. It was a given, because of my talent.

“I think (Nelson) wanted me to work a little harder for it, to know that I was willing to work for it. I always approached it as a blessing. God blessed me so well to make it to the NBA, let alone college.”

Randolph shot a scorching 60.9 percent during his torrid Summer League stretch and said it was a carry-over from his strenuous off-season workout routine.

“I don’t think it was as big as everybody would like to think it was,” he said. “It was just Summer League. I think it showed I have put in time this summer to improve my jump shot and try to learn this game as much as I can.”

Still, Anthony, those were some big-time summer games at the Cox Pavilion and Thomas & Mack Center, no?

“Yeah,” he said. “I wanted to go out there and show my leadership, and show that I’ve matured since last year. People don’t understand that my nature is to be quiet and laid-back.

“I’m trying to open up more, to be more vocal with my teammates.”

He hit the weight room as soon as the playoff-less season ended for the Warriors because he now knows what it takes to participate in the postseason.

“I want to win,” Randolph said. “I’m not saying it’s all on me. It’s a team sport. But I know, eventually, I’d like people to say that Anthony Randolph is one of the leaders on the Golden State Warriors.

“You can’t just lead by vocalizing. You have to lead by example. I was happy to see that my hard work actually does translate to the court. You can never beat that. It lets me know that I have to continue to work hard.”

Anthony Sr. and Crystal met in the Army. Both were chefs. He was a superior who noticed a beautiful woman in the mess hall in Germany. He had an underling bring a meal to her.

That started up a conversation.

“It’s an interesting story,” said Anthony Randolph Jr., who has just begun writing his own.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy