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Chasson Randle is Stanford's best kept secret

Chasson Randle is the best guard you've never heard of and for Stanford basketball, that's good enough. The First Team Pac-12 selection is just playing every game like it's his last.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN -- The makes kept coming, sometimes subsequently, sometimes from the corner but always with a gentle flick of the wrist. Swish. Splash. Swoosh.

Still, when the PA announcer screamed the name on the back of the jersey, it rang hollow to many at the Barclays Center. Almost 3,000 miles away from the Cardinal capitol, Chasson Randle was forging his name to a new audience.

He wasn't a big name freshman from Duke or Kentucky and didn't play with the flash of an outrageous dunker. But for head coach Johnny Dawkins and his Stanford squad, Randle was the most important player on the roster.

Randle was the platoon leader, the Cardinal floor general. And in his last season on the West Coast, Dawkins said  that watching his top guard grow has been fun.

"I blinked and he's now a senior," Dawkins said Friday night in New York following a victory over UNLV. "The thing I've loved about his growth is that he's embraced everything we've tried to teach him. He's a great player and he's one of the best guards in the country and he showed it again tonight."

And when it comes to Randle's success on the court, not much of it is as recognized in a college basketball world where the next big recruit can determine a team's short term success.

The Rock Island, Ill., native was the all-time leading scorer for Rock Island High School and led the school to its first state 3A title in history. He was on the 2010 USA U-17 team that won a gold medal in Hamburg, Germany, playing with future NBA first-round choices Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond, Marquis Teague and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Combined with Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell -- now NBA players -- last season, he led Stanford to a Sweet Sixteen appearance, a Cinderella story for Dawkins tough crew.

For Randle, individual success has always come secondary. Stanford's mentality is a singular one. There's no looking past the game in front of you and there's no looking behind at past failures or triumphs. They have a daily grind.

"We have a 1-0 mentality and we embrace every single day," Randle said following an 18 point scoring night that included six three-pointers. "Whether it's practice, film or whatever we are doing off the court, as a team, we make sure we are focused on the moment."

Prior to the season, Randle was placed on the preseason Wooden Award Watch List, recognizing him as one of college basketball's best players. Last season's First Team All-Pac-12 honoree led his squad in scoring (18.8 per game) and scored 57 total points in March Madness during three games.

But he's not done growing. As far as Dawkins is concerned, there's a lot left the country hasn't seen of Randle.

"He still has room to grow, which is exciting for us," he said. "It's still early in his senior year and I can still see room for where he can improve and that's exciting for us as a staff."

The 6'2, 185-pound guard is one of the unusual phenomenons in college basketball, but it matches his unique name. His father made a pact with his buddies that whoever had a son first in his group would name that child "Chasson (pronounced CHASE-in) Dames."

Though he was given a different middle name, Randle's rise to being one of the country's best guards is as unheard of as his uncommon name. He is unheard of by fans across the country, just as his Stanford team was before knocking off a preseason-anointed Kansas club last March.

Randle has played with, competed against and won facing the top talent in the country, year in and year out. Not many outside of Stanford may have heard of Randle, but between his 18-point outing against UNLV and a 22-point burst against No. 4 Duke, the country may have just gotten their yearly reminder.

The Midwestern-born ballhandler is the undisputed leader of Stanford basketball, and he's bound to take them back to another tournament.

"Nastic, Brown and Randle are terrific players," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Randle is one of the best players in the country ... Johnny [Dawkins] has a really good system for how he uses them. I'd rather not play them ... I've known Johnny for 30 years. They are just great people. It's too bad we have to play one another."