Randle caps fine year with MVP award
ADELAIDE 36ers guard Jerome Randle has capped a stellar 2016-17 NBL season by being named the league's Most Valuable Player.
Randle, 29, has averaged 21 points per game this season - second only to Melbourne United star Casper Ware - and 5.3 assists, and is only the second 36ers player to be named MVP, and the first in 30 years.
"This is a great achievement and great accomplishment but I couldn't do it without my coaching staff ... my team," he said.
"I set a goal for myself to help this young team to be in the top four at the end of the reason.
"We're just still trying to move forward and trying to win a championship.
"A lot of guys here in this league deserve this just as much as I do."
Randle described coach Joey Wright as like "a big brother" and credited his coach for "bringing the love back to the game".
After each game, coaching staff are afforded 10 votes to be spread among the best-performing players, regardless of team, with the maximum any individual can receive being five votes.
Playmaker Randle was awarded 143 votes to claim victory ahead of Perth Wildcat Casey Prather (107 votes) and Sydney Kings guard Kevin Lisch (82).
Illawarra Hawk Rotnei Clarke (76) and Ware (74) rounded out the top five.
"I think (he) probably had it wrapped up with a month to go in the season, really," Australian basketball great Shane Heal said.
"He's probably been the most consistent star in the competition, for somebody who has played the whole season."
The American led the charge as Adelaide surged to the top of the table with a 17-11 record - which included a flawless December campaign - following a 3-6 start to the season.
Wright was recognised as the league's Coach of the Year, becoming the third coach to win the award three times after twice saluting while at the helm of the Brisbane Bullets.
"If you have anything that's going on or going wrong - if you're not confident - you can always go to him," Randle said recently of his coach.
"That's the reason I came back to play for Adelaide 36ers. He's a great coach and a good friend."
Wright, who is in his fourth season as Adelaide coach, polled 49 votes to claim the award ahead of Illawarra counterpart Rob Beveridge (35) and Cairns Taipans boss Aaron Fearne (18) in a 3-2-1 voting system.
"For me, it's the relationships you have with your players," Wright said.
"The relationship I have with these players will be long lasting. That means more than any wins."
As for Adelaide's championship chances, he is hopeful.
"We gonna try to (win)," he said.
Randle and Wright's focus now turns to Thursday night's clash against Illawarra - the first of the 36ers' best-of-three semi-final series against the Hawks - with game one in Adelaide.
The 36ers are narrow favourites with bookmakers - just ahead of Perth and Cairns - to win this year's championship.
MVP - Jerome Randle (Adelaide 36ers)
Coach of the Year - Joey Wright (Adelaide 36ers)
Rookie of the Year - Anthony Drmic (Adelaide 36ers)
Best Defensive Player - Torrey Craig (Brisbane Bullets)
Best Sixth Man - Rotnei Clarke (Illawarra Hawks)
Referee of the Year - Vaughan Mayberry
ALL-NBL FIRST TEAM OF THE YEAR
Jerome Randle (Adelaide 36ers)
Casey Prather (Adelaide 36ers)
Casper Ware (Melbourne United)
Daniel Johnson (Adelaide 36ers)
AJ Ogilvy (Illawarra Hawks)
ALL-NBL SECOND TEAM OF THE YEAR
Nathan Sobey (Adelaide 36ers)
Kevin Lisch (Sydney Kings)
Brad Newley (Sydney Kings)
Torrey Craig (Brisbane Bullets)
Daniel Kickert (Brisbane Bullets)