Over the past couple of seasons, former Wildcats such as T.J. McConnell and Allonzo Trier have proven that you don’t need to be drafted to find success in the NBA. Former Arizona guard Brandon Randolph is hoping to add his name to that list.
Randolph declared for the draft early after two seasons at Arizona. After playing behind Trier and Rawle Alkins his freshman year, Randolph stepped into the starting lineup last season and looked like a potential Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate before his scoring and shooting numbers dropped off considerably during conference play.
Despite the slump to end the season, Randolph was encouraged by the coaching staff to pursue his professional options.
“Coach Miller taught me a lot,” Randolph said. “It was good learning from him because he’s been around and got a lot of guys into the league. He told me I can definitely make it and to stay ready.”
Trier and former Arizona teammate Deandre Ayton were in attendance for the Summer League, each coming off impressive rookie campaigns. While it would have been easy to ask them about their first year in the NBA, Randolph said it’s more personal when they meet up.
“I don’t really talk about basketball with them,” he said. “ It’s just good catching up with them every time I see them.”
Just like every athlete at Summer League, Randolph will have to fight for playing time. He was signed by the Minnesota Timberwolves after going undrafted and will be competing for minutes against two players with NBA regular season reps already in Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop.
Despite battling the two for minutes, Randolph has been able to learn from playing alongside them.
“Keita was in the G-League for a little while and basically said how he used to work all the time just trying to get to the NBA,” Randolph said. “I know I just gotta keep working, just learning from them, picking their brains and be prepared for my moment.”
Since his departure from the UA, Randolph has been working all offseason to adapt to the new style of play at the professional level.
“The space is just a lot more open, so I’ll still have to adjust to it,” he said. “I think this system kinda fits my game. I’ve been working with a bunch of my trainers in New York and California. I’ve got to be mentally and physically ready for this challenge, gotta stay focused and ready when my name is called.”
Besides Trier and McConnell, there have been a number of success stories of players who went undrafted, apparent just this past season with Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, who went undrafted in 2016, playing valuable minutes in the NBA Finals.
Not having as easy a path as some does not discourage Randolph. In fact it does the opposite.
“It definitely motivates me a lot more,” he said. “That’s one conversation that I had with Coach Miller. We talked about all the people that went undrafted and still were able to make it to the league, like TJ [McConnell] for example. He was still able to make a name for himself and he’s doing very well.”
Randolph says he will use being undrafted as the motivation that keeps him pushing toward making an NBA roster.
“That’s definitely my goal," Randolph said, "to make a name for myself and get to the spot.”
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