It’s probably a little known fact, and it has since been hidden by the fact that they won the National Championship, but the 1987-88 Kansas Jayhawks could’ve been a lot better, and the 1990-91 Jayhawks could’ve been a lot worse (more on that later), but for the misfortunes (or should we call it fortunes?) of one Mr. Mark Randall.
The Bloomington, Minnesota native came to Lawrence (by way of playing high school ball outside of Denver in Englewood, Colorado) to play basketball for Larry Brown. He arrived on campus in 1986 and played one season under the legendary KU coach. That season, Randall’s freshman campaign, he averaged 10 minutes per game and scored at a 4.5 PPG clip.
Randall opted to red shirt after his freshman campaign in order to have corrective jaw surgery. That KU team (in what would’ve been his sophomore campaign) went on to win the NCAA title. Who knows what that team would’ve done if the big six foot ten center had been playing. We’ll never know. But it is safe to assume that the 1990-91 team that made it all the way to the NCAA championship game, probably would’ve been a lot worse without Randall.
After posting excellent red shirt sophomore and junior seasons (14.7 PPG, 6.5 RPG in those two seasons), Randall’s senior season was the season that the national spotlight really shined on the big man from Colorado.
KU came into the 1991 NCAA tournament as a three seed with a 22-7 record. Randall’s 10 points and eight rebounds helped KU sneak past a pesky New Orleans team in the first round. After having three below average games (by Randall’s 1991 standards), he broke out when KU needed him the most, in the Final Foul. Randall scored 16 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds as KU beat North Carolina earning a spot in the title game. (Randall was even immortalized on the cover of Sports Illustrated on the week of the Final Four, thus proving that the SI jinx is nonexistent.)
He valiantly toiled away against Duke in the title game, leading both teams in points (18) and rebounds (10), but KU fell to the Blue Devils 72-65.
Despite all the great games and impressive stat lines that Randall achieved during his time at KU, perhaps the most impressive is his field goal percentage. He is the all-time leader in that department at KU, shooting an astounding 62% over the course of his four years on Mount Oread. In case you were wondering, Randall was 643 of 1,037. Impressive.
Randall was then drafted into the NBA with the 27th pick and played for four seasons between the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons, and his hometown Denver Nuggets. And while he only scored 2.6 points per game in an average of seven minutes per contest, those numbers get pretty respectable when thought of in a per-36 minute perspective. There, Randall averaged 13.5 points and 6.5 boards in his time in the NBA.
After his playing days, Randall has worked in his hometown for the Denver Nuggets, and since 2003, he has served as the teams Community Ambassador.