Kevin Callahan (@CP_KCallahan)
With much admiration and respect from his coach and the teammates he is leaving behind, Kharon Randolph is walking away from the game he loves while he still can.
“It was just like my body was kind of breaking down this year,” the Holy Family University senior said. “There was no way that I would be able to get through another season. So I just knew it was best for me to go on a high note - healthy.”
Randolph endured two knee surgeries, one at the Haverford School, and one after an injury his sophomore year in college. He suffered a torn meniscus both times and the second one required microfracture surgery.
Kharon Randolph (above) is calling it a career at Holy Family due to knee injuries. (Photo couresty Tom Weishaar, One More Shot Photography/HFU Athletics)
“It is like if they basically tried to add cartilage onto my knee, so hopefully, it could grow,’ he explained earlier this week. “But the doc told me that once I got that surgery, I would have two years max.”
Ryan Haigh, who finished his third season as head coach of Holy Family, his alma mater, certainly understands Randolph’s decision.
“He just couldn't even get through practice,” Haigh said. “So, I kind of knew it was coming to an end for him.”
Randolph, who scored a season-high 24 points in the opener against Franklin Pierce, averaged 10.5 points this season and 10.4 in his career. He has two years of eligibility remaining if he were able to use them, but his knees won’t allow it.
“Like the first few games of the season. I was averaging about eighteen,” Randolph said. “I didn't think I was going to be able to, you know, contribute as much as I did this year because of how I felt during preseason.
“I really tried to get as much out of myself as I could.”
Randolph lost in his final game, scoring 13 points while falling to 20-win Jefferson 68-59 in a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) matchup last Saturday. Before the afternoon tilt at the Campus Center Gymnasium, the Tigers honored Randolph.
Holy Family finished 9-19 and 4-14 in the CACC.
But numbers aren’t how Randolph will be remembered.
“He not only became the face of our basketball program, but also became the face of our school over the last four years,” Haigh said. “He just had a huge impact on our program. It can't be measured by stats.”
Haigh, who fondly calls Randolph by his nickname “Bonk,” said his own three young children can’t “come to grips with” him not playing next season.
“Because of his leadership, we had the highest GPA,” Haigh said about this year’s team. “Because he was our senior leader, guys handled themselves with so much more maturity and got involved in different things like he does.
“He's just a great human being.”
Randolph (above) skies to the hoop in a game for Holy Family against Queens. (Photo couresty Tom Weishaar, One More Shot Photography/HFU Athletics)
In 2018-19, Randolph started all 27 games as a freshman, averaging 11.1 points and 3.4 assists per game. He scored a season-high 27 points, and dealt a season-high eight assists against Wilmington. He snatched a season-best 10 rebounds at Merrimack.
So he was as complete of a player as he was a person.
Randolph isn't taking his medical redshirt or COVID year, so that is how he is leaving with two years left of eligibility.
“It was definitely a difficult decision,” Randolph said. “When the year started out, it was hard getting through each practice.”
“I just texted my parents one day that I don't think I can make it through,” Randolph said about his mother, Nakia, and father, Damon. “And they were, you know, they would keep me in prayer and told me [...] just see how the season goes.”
Randolph said he is walking away now “so to be able to have a chance to play with my siblings and my kids once that time comes because if I had another year, I wouldn't be able to do anything.”
His sister, Kayana, 18, is a freshman at West Chester; his brother Kameron, 14, is freshman at Cristo Rey High School and brother Kash is two-years-old. The Randolphs live in Northeast Philly, a short commute to his Bucks County college.
To the delight of his coach and teammates, Randolph, who majored in psychology, is staying at Holy Family.
“I'm getting my master's in clinical mental health counseling,” Randolph said.
And Randolph is staying with the Holy Family basketball program. He will be a graduate assistant for Haigh.
“He gave me that opportunity and told me, you know, I'm fully welcomed,” Randolph said. “He honestly sees coaching in my future. So, you know, he's giving me this opportunity to do this.
“I know I'm getting my master's in clinical medical counseling, but I know I love basketball and I know that one day I do dream of coaching college basketball, but I honestly can't tell as of right now.”
Randolph spent his high school years at The Haverford School, leading the Fords to an Inter-Ac title as a senior. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Randolph, 22, graduated from high school in 2018 where he played for Bernie Rogers at Haverford and teamed with Christian Ray (La Salle) and Jameer Nelson Jr. (Delaware) for the powerful Fords.
As a sophomore at Holy Family, he was injured in the fifth game of the 2019-20 season at West Chester, and last year COVID shut down the season.
“When we were ramping up for my junior year, I wasn't able to do much in the summer cause I was still rehabbing, so I kind of was just in the house kind of just sitting wondering, you know, if I'd be able to play or not,” Randolph said. “And once I got the call that we weren't able to play, it was bittersweet, like a kind of a burden off of me because I knew I wouldn't be ready, physically. I definitely wouldn't be ready to play.”
The extra year of rest and rehabilitation allowed Randolph the opportunity to lace up his sneakers again for this season. But any hopes of playing beyond this year were quickly dashed when he was facing fleet 5-11 freshman guard Vernon Johnson.
“It was about October or our first official practice, and a very crafty player ball-handler who could get wherever he wants on the floor and he was kind of like was killing me. And I think that I was kind of second-guessing myself,” Randolph explained. “I was like, damn, he reminds me a lot of myself and it was also like, I don't know if I could … I definitely stepped up to it, of course, but in practice that day, I was looking like, to hold on for my life. It was a reality check for me for sure.”
Randolph’s impressive maturity is allowing him to walk into the next phase of his life with his head high as well as with knees that can still support him.
“We cherish it so much and this is all that we know and when it comes to put the ball down, we don't really have anything to resort to and we kind of struggle in our next chapter of our lives,” Randolph said about why it is so hard for players to leave the game. “For me, I can honestly say that when I was a child it was never my dream to go to the NBA or to play professionally, even though I thought after my freshman year in college, I could go overseas.
“I always wanted to go to college for free and I didn't want to make my parents have to pay for college, and that was my goal.
“So I think it was a little easier for me to turn another page, like it's time to hang it up,” he continued, “although I love it and I've done it my entire life, but I think I knew that everything comes to an end, and I think I'm very prepared for the next chapter in my life.”