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Rutgers recruit Randall shows off skills at Rucker Park

Two possessions was all you had to see to know everything you needed to about Derrick Randall.

Late in the second half, the South Kent forward rose up on the right side of the rim. His 6-foot-9, 220-pound frame then hung in the air longer than a defender and his long arm flipped the ball up and in on the other side of the rim for a sweet, Jordan-esque reverse layup. The next time down the floor Randall quickly sprung up for a one-handed put back in a crowd.

The big fella is a problem.

“I just have a lot of energy,” said Randall, who has verbally committed to Rutgers. “Some people say I have too much energy I just can’t stand still. I just have to be moving. … I was just like, ‘Go for the rebounds. Go for the rebounds and if I get it score, score.’”

That sequence was part of a stellar second-half during his team-high 20-point performance for the New York City all stars in a 73-56 win over United China at the World Basketball Festival in his first-ever game at Rucker Park on Friday. The Crown Heights, Brooklyn native was one of the most impressive players on the court. Randall was active on the glass, defended well and showed the ability to quickly get off the floor for a second effort.

“He is extremely athletic,” New York City coach Kimani Young said. “He runs the floor. He runs like a deer. He has a nice touch around the basket. We just got to get him to catch it first.”

Playing in New York City is a rarity for Randall. After a year at Adelphi Academy in Brooklyn, he transferred to Paterson Catholic in New Jersey. As a junior he averaged 10 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Randall helped lead the Cougars to a 28-1 season ending with a 63-49 loss to St. Anthony’s of Jersey City in the Non-Public Class B final. It was the last basketball game in the school’s history as it will close its doors because of financial troubles.

“People were crying,” Randall said. “I knew I was going to find a new school, but those who don’t play sports I felt bad for them. The school is closing, they have been there for three years and they couldn’t stay there last year and graduate.”

He had planned on attending prep school anyway and will head to South Kent along with a handful of other New York City products. Randall said he chose the Connecticut school because of the level of competition he will face there and also mentioned he is close with former Rice star Kadeem Jack and Maurice Harkless of Forest Hills, who will both be attending the school. Randall wants to improve his ball handling, post moves and shooting.

He understands Rutgers and the Big East awaits him, after choosing the school over Virginia Tech, Marquette, St. John’s and Seton Hall. Randall was ranked the No. 17 center in his class by Scout.com. His reason for picking the Scarlet Knights and new head man Mike Rice was a simple one. He and the coach share a common trait.

“Everything about Mike Rice is a positive,” Randall said. “He is just like me, always energetic, always on the move, never stands still, always yelling. I like that. I need a coach like that.”

He certainly put that tendency on display for the New York City all-stars, who will travel to Turkey in late August to play exhibition games against international competition. It was a day and a performance Randall won’t soon forget, even though his Brooklyn team lost to The Bronx club in the Battle of the Boroughs semifinals in the game prior.

“I’m always going to remember this,” he said. “It’s a great day for me. I enjoyed my experience here. I wish we can do it again.”

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