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High Schools | Impressive display for 'Scootie'

Randall scores 31 with Owls' Dunphy, Christmas looking on

No one will ever accuse Andrew "Scootie" Randall of being overly curious.

His nickname goes way, way back, like Willie Mays to centerfield in that old Polo Grounds clip, but it took him 13 years to finally get around to asking his mother, Renee, about its origin.

"Well, son . . . "

As Randall was being born, the attending physician was called away because of an emergency elsewhere in the maternity ward. Before he could return . . . there Andrew was, scooting into this world.

The next time he hurries will be the second.

Randall, a 6-6, 220-pound forward at Communications Tech, is widely considered the city's top senior basketball prospect. Almost certainly, he will attend Temple or La Salle (Virginia Commonwealth is still hanging around) and there were rumors all summer, and into the early fall, that a decision would be announced momentarily.

Yet, here we are, in mid-December, and the guessing game continues.

Indecision? No, just maturity.

"There's some pressure on me, and this period is kind of stressful, but it's not coming from college coaches," Randall said yesterday, after pacing visiting CT past Samuel Fels, 90-54, in a Public B opener. "It's all from me."

Here's the deal: Owing to some ninth-grade academic stumbles, Randall is not yet qualified for freshman eligibility. He's close, though, and he wants to put himself in the sittin'-pretty position before finalizing his college plan.

There's much to be said for that approach, right? Ditto for Randall's skill set.

Fels admittedly has frontcourt deficiencies in the height and strength departments. But the Panthers are seriously frisky in a dart here, dart there kind of way, and it's no accident when a guy rings up 31 points and 16 rebounds and, just as impressively, deals six assists.

Among the observers were Temple coach Fran Dunphy and star Owl Dionte Christmas, a Fels product. Dunphy stayed around for three quarters. Christmas remained until the end, then exchanged hugs and a few quick words with Randall.

"It was nice that he came," Randall said. "I was talking to him on the computer and he said he might. I just wasn't sure he would."

As for Dunphy . . .

"I didn't pay him no mind," Randall said, smiling.

Explanation, please.

"When I was a younger player," he said, "I did use to worry about impressing college coaches. But if you try too hard to do that, you're trying to be something you're not, and that doesn't help you at all. I appreciate that he was here, but I wasn't playing for him.

"Coach [Lou] Biester always tell me that no matter where we are, people are always watching us. You have to carry yourself the right way, play a smart game and help your team get the win."

Four of Randall's 13 field goals came on dunks, with two the thunder, in-transition variety. He also perfected the ol' Moses Malone trick, thrice following his own misses for field goals. Overall, he shot 13-for-22 and 5-for-9.

Winter Scootie bears little resemblance to Summer Scootie.

"Yeah, I was almost always playing away from the basket," he said. "We had other tall guys [on an AAU team], so I took that chance to work on my jump shot and I even played some point. That was nice. I was happy about that and it should help me for the future. But here I'm needed where I'm used to playing, on the inside.

"Don't worry. I was also working all summer on my post moves."

As CT roared to a 23-5 first-quarter edge, guards Chris Jones and Antonio "Gee" Monroe were also impressive.

The 6-1 Jones posted nine of his 10 points in that session; included was an explosive dunk. Monroe nailed a pair of treys. The most productive sub was the energetic Preston Nelson (10 points, five boards). For Fels, football quarterback Tyriq Smith scored 12 of his 14 points in the second quarter.

Early in an interview, Randall said he's still hoping to draw widespread interest.

"Even from the NBA," he said.

He was kidding.

"No matter where you go, your success is going to depend on how hard you work and how you blend with your teammates," he said. "Bigger isn't always better. You might go to a name school and get lost. I know I could be comfortable at Temple or La Salle, and I know I'll do what it takes to get on the floor.

"My final decision? It'll mostly be the comfort level. I want to have a good feeling about all the coaches and players. I want a good fit."

Randall, who lives near 72nd and Paschall, said he figures he'll major in business.

"Math's my best subject," he said.

Maybe because it's all spelled out. And there's never a call for curiosity. *