The Bee's Winter All-Stars: Boys Basketball Player of the Year Murshid Randle

The Fresno BeeApril 3, 2014 

John Jones, as Clovis High's basketball coach, has had to deal with Central's Murshid Randle for a long time.

That's over, leaving but one thing to do: buy a graduation card and mail it to him in early June.

"Finally," Jones says. "Four years of him was enough."

One of the best finishers at the rim Fresno County has seen — and as a 6-foot-2 athlete seemingly playing much taller — Randle leaves Central with 78 wins, three Tri-River Athletic Conference titles and a school career-record 1,831 points.

For all that, he's The Bee's Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

"His ability to score and put up great numbers for four years says something about his work ethic and character," Jones says. "Also, he did it with the opposing team's best defender guarding him every night. Murshid not only brought scoring but, more importantly, leadership and unselfishness."

And he did so, Central coach Tim Amundsen says, without shifting emotional gears.

"What was impressive," Amundsen says, "Murshid's demeanor never changed, up or down, no matter the magnitude of the game or moment. He was just poised, solid and steady. And he was an absolute pleasure to coach."

Amundsen coached Randle for two years after the forward had been groomed since sixth grade by Loren LeBeau.

But LeBeau was removed as coach in 2012 after a fatal drunken driving crash that resulted in a 12-year prison sentence.

"It was difficult at first," Randle says of the coaching transition. "It's life; things happen. You just move on from it and adjust."

Never interrupted was Randle's signature power drive to the basket. And it typically was executed against much-taller defenders.

"My coaches always said it didn't matter how tall they were, to try to go through their chest and draw a foul," Randle says. "So I developed that mentality that if I got to the rim I had a higher percentage of scoring."

Randle's goal of playing in college has met two obstacles:

He hasn't qualified academically.

His college position is in question because of his height.

"God willing, I will grow," he says. "College coaches always talk to the bigger guys — always. But I'm fine with the way I am. It's always heart over height, anyway."

For all his accomplishments, he'll leave Central with his heart bleeding a bit.

Why? No section championships, not even this season when the Grizzlies were top-seeded in Division I and finished 27-5 — best in school history.

Randle's 29 points weren't enough in a 74-62 semifinal loss to Bullard before a turnaway crowd at Central.

"I worked so hard since my freshman year," he says, "I felt I deserved to win Valley, honestly.

"But there's a lot more basketball to be played. I'll just continue to work hard, pray and hope I get a championship under my belt."

Amundsen has a plan.

His son, Bee All-Star Nate Amundsen, has signed with NAIA power Concordia of Irvine. They're going to take Randle with them when they visit the school in two weeks during Easter break.

Because NAIA academic requirements are much less restrictive than the NCAA's, Randle would only have to graduate from Central to get in.

"He wouldn't be a point guard," Amundsen says. "He would be a slasher and scorer. And, for Concordia, that would be a steal."

Player of the Year: Murshid Randle

School: Central

Grade/position Senior/forward

Fast break: Two-time Tri-River Athletic Conference Player of the Year led Grizzlies to 78 wins and three league titles in a four-year career while becoming school's career leader in points with 1,831. He averaged 20.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals this season for winningest team (27-5) in school history.

He said it: "He's very efficient in terms of not needing a lot of shots to get his points, and he's as good a finisher as I've coached. His demeanor never changed, up or down, and no matter the magnitude of the game or moment. He was an absolute pleasure to coach." — Grizzlies coach Tim Amundsen

The reporter can be reached at aboogaard@fresnobee.com or @beepreps on Twitter.

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