STANFORD, Calif.- The first time Solomon Hughes saw Chasson Randle, he knew there was something special about him. Not his basketball talent, which Randle used to make the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team in 2011–12. Hughes was more impressed with his attitude, curiosity and thirst for knowledge.
“From day one, it was clear he wanted to get the most out of his experience,” said Hughes, an academic advisor to Stanford student-athletes. “If I set a time, he’s always early and we have great conversations. He’s just an absolute pleasure to work with.”
Randle, a quick and fearless 6-2, 185-pound junior guard from Rock Island, Illinois, was a straight-A student in high school. His mother, Gwen, an insurance claims adjuster, kept after him about his grades. So did his father, Willie, who works for a local cable company and oversaw his athletic pursuits.
“They split that role and I commend them for that,” Randle said.
As a senior, he averaged 22.3 points and 7.7 rebounds and was chosen co-Mr. Basketball in Illinois. A three-time 3A All-State First Team selection, Randle was highly recruited and had many options. He could have put basketball first and coasted academically. But that is not how the Randle family is wired.
“That is something we talked about as a family before I made the decision to come here,” said Randle, who has three sisters. “It was a matter of getting the best out of me as a person. So when I got here, I wanted to make sure I worked as hard as I could and I’m still doing that now. Stanford has really pushed me on the court and off the court.”
Randle made the Pac-12 All-Academic Second Team last year and is close to completing his degree in African & African-American Studies —a year ahead of his class. He was recently accepted to the Department of Psychology’s master’s program, and will begin work on it next fall.
“It was the highlight of my quarter,” Solomon said of the news.
Randle’s favorite subjects in high school were math and history. Schoolwork always came first.
“The routine was basically get the homework done, then spend as much time as you can on the basketball court,” he said. “That was my release from school. Not to make it seem like I thought of school as prison or jail, but I kind of split the two and got as much work done as I could. Once I finished, I was able to have my fun on the basketball court.”
Randle’s favorite professors at Stanford are Dr. Cheryl Brown and Dr. Arnetha Ball, who teach African American Studies. Hughes and Dr. Brown helped Randle apply for his co-term in psychology.
“Rarely do student-athletes do that in their fourth year,” said Dr. Brown. “He’s very organized and very passionate. I’m always impressed by his focus and humility.”
Randle is still discovering ways to make the most of everything that Stanford has to offer.
“The opportunities here are endless,” said Randle. “You have so much support around you that you don’t know which way to go at first. Once you find what you’re interested in, they’re right there with you, walking you down the right path.”
Randle is especially grateful to the Buck/Cardinal Club for all it does for Stanford student-athletes.
“They are proud supporters of the university,” he said. “We enjoy getting to sit down and chat with them about what’s going on in our personal lives and you kind of get to learn something about them, too. We are thankful for everything they do.”
Like many student-athletes, Randle takes a light class schedule during basketball season, then loads up in the spring and also attends summer school.
“I think I’ve done a good job of that,” said Randle. “Summer school has been a big benefit for me. Just being able to take those extra units and get ahead can lighten the load during the winner quarter when we’re right in the thick of things.”
Randle, who this week was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team, has started all 30 games for the Cardinal this season and carries a team-leading 18.8-point average into Wednesday night’s Pac-12 Tournament game against Washington State in Las Vegas. He has led Stanford in scoring 15 times, pouring in a career-high 33 points against BYU—the most by a Cardinal player since Landry Fields scored 35 against UCLA in 2010—and has also dished out 66 assists.
“To this point, I think we’ve built something special for ourselves,” Randle said. “We’ve had our ups and downs, but what team hasn’t? We’ve stuck together through all the adversity (injuries); losing Andy Brown, Aaron Bright, Rosco Allen and Christian Sanders. We recognize they can’t be out there with us, so we have to pick up more of the slack and do it for them.”
Even after frustrating defeats, Randle said the team has stuck together and there has been no finger pointing.
“That’s indicative of our coach,” he said, referring to Johnny Dawkins, the Anne and Tony Joseph Director of Men’s Basketball. “You just have to play as hard as you can and grind until the wheels fall off. We’re not looking back; we’re looking ahead.”
Although Randle would love to give professional basketball his best shot, he hasn’t lost sight of the big picture. He’s pursuing psychology because, “I’m really interested in how people make decisions.” Law school is another possibility.
“I’m going to be able to use his story for future students,” said Hughes. “He’s gone the extra mile to develop relationships.”