Homecoming: CMU’s Kyle Randall returning to Youngstown for BracketBuster game
Senior guard Kyle Randall first played basketball in the hallway of his home in Youngstown, Ohio.
It was all so typical, with a basketball hoop hanging on the door.
He gained something there and through his later years in his hometown that his head coach, Keno Davis, and his father, Craig Randall, both pinpointed as something that has made him flourish this season: His basketball IQ.
“He would be what you would call a student of the game,” Craig said.
Davis added: “And that’s to understand angles, understand how to attack the basket, which he has done better as the season has progressed.”
Randall will use the knowledge gained through the years as he makes a trip back to where he was first groomed to become a basketball player when he plays at Youngstown State at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
The last time he was in Youngstown was during Christmas, and he could not have expected the gift he coincidentally received from the schedule.
The reason the Chippewas are playing the Penguins is because they were matched up in the ESPN BracketBusters on Feb. 4.
“It’s funny how God works,” Randall said. “I call it a blessing, going home. It’s the first time I’m going home to play basketball in my whole college career.”
Randall has been the leader for CMU this season, averaging 17.8 points per game, 2.2 points higher than what the second-and third-leading scorers are averaging combined per game.
Craig said he was “pleased” with how his son has performed, and about 20 to 40 people are planning to watch Kyle play.
“Kyle has worked very, very hard,” he said. “But he had been very blessed to have the opportunity CMU has provided him.”
Kyle had lived in Youngstown all his life. He even remained there when he attended Kennedy Catholic High School in Hermitage, Pa., commuting 35 minutes.
“It definitely holds a special place in your heart,” Randall said. “You’re born there, you grew up there, all your friends and family live there or are from there.”
He said it can be a boring city at times, but as long as you have a basketball or football in your hands, people keep busy.
As far as his favorite court he played in his hometown, he does not have one. He played wherever he could find a place to play; whether it was The Y or Youngstown State’s own gym.
“Wherever there was a hoop and ball and we had enough space, that’s where we tried to play,” he said.
As well as being born in Youngstown, Kyle was more specifically born into a basketball family.
Craig and his wife, Karla Randall, played college basketball at Westminster College, an NAIA school at the time, and Kent State, respectively.
In the Westminster College record books, last updated in 2011, Craig sat at eighth all-time in points scored over his career with 1,503 in 89 games from 1980 to 1984. Karla received honorable mention in the Mid-American Conference in the 1981-82 season.
Moments Randall brought up regarding basketball in Youngstown were not of his own play but buzzer-beaters by his older brothers, Lance, and his younger brother, Craig, have made in high school.
“Basketball runs in my blood,” Randall said. “It’s in my family.”
When Kyle played in a recreational league, which was for people of all ages in the city, at South High Field House, he scored about 50 points when he was around 13 years old.
Craig told him after the game that he beat his father’s record in points that was in the 40s. That was a moment that he will always remember of his own play in his hometown.
“I don’t think anyone knew at the time,” he said. “My dad knew and I knew and he told me about it, and it was a great feeling for me, because you always want to try to outdo your dad.”
Many more people will know if he helps outdo a college team Saturday in the Beeghly Center, where he often attended open gyms earlier in his life, to halt the Chippewas eight-game losing streak.
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