Throwback Thursday: Mark Randall
Dec. 22, 2011
Mark Randall (Men’s Basketball) 1987-1991
Randall experienced much success on the court during his time with Kansas, going to a pair of Final Fours (1988 & 1991) and winning it all in 1988. He also played for the US national team in 1990, winning a bronze medal in the FIBA World Championship. After leaving KU, Randall went onto star in the NBA for parts of five seasons, playing for the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons and finally his hometown Denver Nuggets. Randall can still be found around the Nuggets organization as he currently works for the team in its community relations office. When not on the court or in the classroom, the Minnesota native can be found on the ice playing hockey in a local adult recreation league.
Do you have one memory that stands out from your time at KU?
“Walking off the court for the last time (in 1991). It was a tough thing because I consciously knew that it would be the last time I would be playing in front of those great fans, outside of an alumni game. That was an emotional thing for me because I remember my brother, who at the time was also enrolled at Kansas, was down on the corner of the court so I was able to see him and I gave him a huge hug; it was tough. For those five years that I was there, nothing was better than playing in Allen Fieldhouse. Even with my short amount of time in the NBA, nothing even comes close to playing in the Fieldhouse.”
When did you start playing basketball?
“I actually started playing when I was five. My dad was a high school coach and after practice the varsity players would bring me down on the floor and teach me how to dribble and shoot. I just fell in love with the game at that point. Growing up I was playing soccer, baseball, street-hockey, a little bit of everything. I absolutely loved sports but basketball started coming to the forefront when I was a freshman in high school. That is when I started to get attention from colleges and I was going to different camps.”
You played hockey?
“I am originally from Minnesota and we moved to Colorado when I was five. Actually, if I would have stayed in Bloomington (Minn.) I would have gone to the same high school as Cole Aldrich, which was also where my dad coached before we moved to Colorado. But I have an absolute passion for hockey and I think it started with my ties to Minnesota. My family put me on skates when I was really young. I didn’t skate much for nearly 30 years, but I recently got some skates and I’m starting to play in the ‘old man’ hockey leagues and just loving it. The league is pretty laid back and I’m just getting started. It’s not like I am going to learn how to skate backwards anytime soon, so it’s not that competitive. Hockey is totally different and I just love watching the game. It is a completely different skill set and I am just looking to have fun.”
Do you have any other memories that stand out from your time at Kansas?
“One story is from when I was a freshman. We were playing Notre Dame on national television. I started the game and I was out there with Chris Piper. The guy I was defending went to set a pick on Chris and I didn’t call out the pick to warn him. At the same time, the guy Chris was guarding caught the ball for an alley-oop and he dunked it as Chris fouled him. I just remember Chris coming straight over and grabbing me by the shirt and he said, ‘if you don’t call out the pick next time I’ll kick your butt myself.’ And I called out every single pick after that for five years.
Also, 1991, we had a special year. Nobody in the world thought we were going to get to the Final Four; and we knocked off North Carolina to get to the championship game. If we make layups we easily beat Duke in my opinion, it was like there was a cap on the hoop.
What is your current role with the Nuggets organization?
“I work in community relations, so we go out into the community and to different schools in the area three or four times per week. I absolutely love that part of my job and I’ve been doing that for about eight years now. When I go into schools I’m not really talking about basketball; we talk about real-life stuff and reinforce what parents and teachers are already talking to these kids about. We talk to kids about staying away from drugs and negative influences as well as bullying. I’m not saving the world but if I can say something that connects with these kids in a different way than they have already heard, than I feel like I am making a difference. I know it sounds deep but I really I feel like I have found a purpose.”
What did it mean to you to be a first round draft pick in the NBA?
“I remember in fifth grade drawing a picture of myself in a Nuggets uniform for a project we did. I always wanted to get to this level. It is special, along with my memories from Kansas. Then to culminate the end of my time at Kansas with becoming the first-round pick of the Bulls, who were defending champions, was as a kid what you shoot for.”
Do you get a chance to remain involved with the University of Kansas?
“I got elected to the Alumni Association Board of Directors, so I will be in Lawrence at least three times a year for those meetings, and I am excited about that. Our goal is to make sure the Alumni Association stays as strong as ever and to try to build the relationships we have with the community inside the University and out. We want to get people more aware of the Alumni Association and how it benefits current and past students as well as the University. Through the Alumni Association I have been able to learn even more about the University. Last September was my first meeting and I’m honored that they have asked me to serve on the board, which I get to do for five years.”
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