Plainfield Central has become a key resource for JJC basketball. The local high school is the producer of two of JJC’s most talented players, freshman Matt Hund and sophomore Darious Randolph.
Both players tower over their opponents, at well over six feet tall. They’ve proven to be very beneficial to the team with their elite level of scoring, rebounding and overall leadership.
However it was not always such a foreseeable thing.
“We kind of have the same story.” Hund said, “He (Randolph) wasn’t on the team, and I was only on varsity for my senior year. I never really got much playing time at all.”
This season, Hund has totaled 233 points, good for 9.2 PPG, and started in 22 out of 26 games that he’s been in. It’s become quite difficult to rationalize the reasoning behind the struggle for him on his high school roster.
“I didn’t make the basketball team,” Randolph said. “Actually, one of the coaches told me that I wasn’t good enough to play basketball.”
Randolph, so far in the season, has accumulated 398 points, leading the team in scoring with 17.2 PPG, and started in 20 out of the 23 games that he’s participated in.
‘Regret’ is a word that comes to mind, when considering the feeling that the coaches back at Plainfield Central must feel. Randolph has gone from a high school snub to a college-level standout.
Together, the pair seem to make a good duo, and that chemistry has to do with the fact that they have become good friends – on and off the court.
“This is my big homie.” Randolph said, when asked about their friendship. “I got a great chance to see Matt’s game at L.A. Fitness (prior to the season) and that’s where we first started to click.
“This team has been the best mean of helping us grow even closer though. We try to stay close when it comes to team activities and practices. Matt has become one of my best friends.”
The duo’s friendships can also prove to be a great motivation on the court as well.
“If Matt comes out and gets a ferocious dunk, that just gets my blood pumping, then I want a ferocious dunk,” said Randolph. “I know it’s the same way for him. We’ve had moments where I have a big play, and then Matt gets all pumped up. When that happens, we start playing stronger defense and produce a bit more on offense.”
Hund agreed with his teammate, adding “(Randolph) said it perfectly. When he gets that big dunk, I want to get the big dunk. I almost want to one-up him. We definitely feed off of each other.”
The two have proved that to be true. Both have been pretty dominant this season, but fell upon a rough stretch after suffering their first home defeat in two years [Jan. 15 vs. College of DuPage].
The team would lose again in a close game against Rock Valley just a week later. Both Hund and Randolph feel their struggles in conference play are self-inflicted.
“We’re going through something right now,” said Hund. “I’ll say this, we are own biggest enemy right now. I think that Coach Kuhn is [upset] at us right now and, honestly, he’s not as [upset] as he should be. We know that he knows that it’s our fault. No team has beaten us. It sounds kind of ignorant, but it’s all been self-inflicted.”
“We had a chance to sit down with our coaching staff,” said Randolph. “They let us all know that ‘we have to get it together.’ We need to stop playing twenty-minute halves and start playing forty-minute games. We started the season off at 16-2, this team is a lot better than where we are right now.”
“It’s just a matter of fixing things,” Hund said. “Facing the adversity and changing things for the better. We just had a talk about what our plans are to try and repair this. I have the same confidence in this team that I did in the beginning of the year.
“I know what we’re capable of,” Hund continued. “I know that this team can do some great things; I know we will. For the rest of the season, we’re just going to give it everything that we’ve got and leave everything out on the floor.”
The boys’ comments could best reflect the season. There have been some low points, but there have been more highs than anything.
The team could be better and there is not a soul to doubt that. However, as Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
When asked about their performance as individuals, they proved the saying to be true.
“I know I’m capable of a lot more.” Randolph said. “I’m not too happy about what I’ve done so far. Lately, it doesn’t matter how well I do, a loss is a loss.
“I don’t remember too many losers in history. You don’t give recognition to the teams that ‘almost made it.’ You always remember the winners. So overall, I’m not too proud or satisfied with my performance.”
Hund echoed his friend and teammate’s sentiment.
“Me personally, I’ve never really had this type of chance. I never played much, so I’m happy with where I’m at right now.
“But, on top of that, I’m nowhere near satisfied and I’m still hungry for more wins and improvement. I strive to get better day-in and day-out. This is all still kind of new to me. I’m honestly a bit surprised with where I’m at right now, but like I said, I’m not satisfied.”
There is no doubt that the team is capable of improving, but it will take work and belief.
For Randolph and Hund, adversity has been a part of their journey in the past. Adversity has found its way back into their path, but there’s no reason why they can’t conquer this obstacle, the same way they’ve done it in the recent past.