Pac-12 Senior Days: Stanford Says Goodbye to Accomplished Senior Class

Posted by Kevin Danna on March 1st, 2015

Today’s game against Oregon will be Stanford’s last at Maples Pavilion in the 2014-15 campaign (at least, Stanford hopes that it’s the last game at Maples this year), meaning it’s Senior Day for Stanford’s Big Three of Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown and Stefan Nastic.

Obviously Johnny Dawkins and staff knew what they were doing when they recruited the Rock Island stud, but the first hint I got that Chasson Randle was going to be special was in the summer before his freshman season. On the first day of summer school, Randle was in the gym working out at 7:00 AM. This wasn’t for some scheduled workout, mind you; he just wanted to come in on his own and get shots up. And gotten shots up he has. 1,632 of ‘em, in fact, by far more than anybody in Stanford history. Sure, he isn’t the most efficient player, and yeah, you’d like to see your head man shoot better than 40 percent from the field. And most definitely, you’d like to see a guy at his size distribute the rock a little more.

Chasson Randle: Bulldog.

Chasson Randle: Bulldog.

But Randle is what so few Stanford basketball players over the years have been. He’s a dog, and I mean that in the most positive way possible. You want a bucket? Chasson’s your guy. He might not always make it, but he’s never scared of the moment. And that’s what I’ve always appreciated about him — he wants the basketball; he has never shied away from taking the big shot. It hasn’t always worked out, and he has certainly done things that have cost Stanford games in the past (fouling a half-court shooter as time expired in a tie game against Minnesota in the Bahamas is something I won’t soon forget) but not too many people have the gumption to challenge the nation’s leading shot-blocker with the game on the line (see: Stanford’s overtime win against Washington when Robert Upshaw was still lacing ‘em up). He made that one.

His scoring pace has slowed down in recent games; he’s no longer above 20.0 per game. It appears as though all of the minutes he’s logged this season are starting to get to him. I’m sure his usage rate is off the charts (one of those advanced stats I should look at but don’t). But if it’s a tight game late against the Ducks today, there’s nobody Stanford would rather have go to work, and Chasson won’t let a little fatigue get in his way with an NCAA Tournament berth on the line. And you can bet he’d love to settle the Randle-or-Young argument that besieged the Pac-12 microsite e-mail chain back in November once and for all (so would Young, I’m sure). Randle will get an NBA look. Summer League and training camp for sure. He might have to go the Tim Frazier/Bryce Cotton route and get a 10-day contract out of the D-League, but before it’s all said and done, Randle will be able to say he has some NBA regular season experience.

Anthony Brown: Big Fish

Anthony Brown: Big Fish

“Small fish in a big pond or big fish in a medium pond?” That tweet from Ocean View High School senior Anthony Brown set The Bootleg message boards on fire. Does this show a character flaw? Does he put himself above the team? Those are the questions the Old Guard posited online. The SoCal kid was choosing between UCLA and Stanford – you guess which pond is which. Eventually, the top-50 recruit chose the medium pond, and, at least for this blogger, those “character” questions were quickly quieted. That incoming freshman class was very tight off the court, and Brown was right in the thick of it. He was all about his teammates and the team. Maybe a person can’t be judged by one 13-word tweet, after all.

His game would take a while to round into shape, but his talent was always evident. The one game that will always stick out in my mind, the one where he really “turned the corner,” was against Cleveland State in the first round of the NIT at the end of his sophomore season. The Cardinal found itself in a tight contest with the Vikings in the second half and Brown rose to the occasion. I could only tell you his stats in the game after looking them up (15 points, 12 rebounds), but he hit this 18-foot pull-up jumper from the right wing that made me say to myself, “Man, that’s a League jumper.”

Of course, he has turned into the leading three-point shooter in the conference by percentage (apparently the NCAA deems his 134 attempts over 27 games to be not enough to qualify for nationwide stats). I can’t count the number of times I’ve said to myself, “money,” before Brown has even hoisted up a 22-footer. He has become automatic from downtown. He has missed some free throws in crunch time over the years, but for Stanford, who hasn’t? For all he has done for Dawkins and Co., though, I will always remember this senior for his performance against Cleveland State.

More than anybody out of Stanford’s three-headed monster, Anthony Brown is a bona fide NBA prospect. A quick check of the NBA Mock Drafts do not have him in the top 60, but Brown has the body to guard high-level NBA wings. Oklahoma City is grooming former Cardinal Josh Huestis to be a 3-and-D kinda guy, a position that Anthony Brown can step into right away. He might not realize it (realize as in fulfill, not be cognizant of), but Brown has the potential to have a multi-year career in the NBA.

Stefan Nastic's Improvement Over His Time Under Johnny Dawkins Has Been Impressive (Jeff Roberson, AP)

Stefan Nastic’s Improvement Over His Time Under Johnny Dawkins Has Been Impressive (Jeff Roberson, AP)

One of the guys who would have most benefited from increasing the foul limit to six, Stefan Nastic was a late bloomer on the recruiting scene and in college basketball. He has certainly had his struggles at times, but what he did at the end of his redshirt junior season in 2013-14 was incredible. He shot 6-of-6 against Utah in the regular season finale; 5-of-5 vs. Wazzu in the first round of the Pac-12 tourney; 1-of-1 apiece against Arizona State and UCLA in the quarters and semis, respectively; 5-of-6 on the Lobos in the first round of the NCAAs; 4-of-5 in the upset of Kansas; 5-of-7 in a losing effort against Dayton in the Sweet Sixteen. That’s 27-of-31 when you put it all together, good for 87 percent over a seven-game stretch.

I love a big man who can defend and rebound, and while maybe Nastic doesn’t do either of those things at a desirable level, he has a mid-range game to die for, and when he’s in a zone offensively, very few opposing collegiate bigs can stop him. There’s always a need for 6’11” bigs and Nastic will certainly get a Summer League look. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him in a training camp either, which could help raise his asking price for an overseas deal. There’s nothing wrong with making a living in Europe, especially with his Serbian connections.

Let’s also give a quick shout out to Elliot Bullock and Wade Morgan, walk-ons who will also be having their Maples Pavilion swan song. His knees are shot, but Bullock has given nothing but 100 percent effort whenever he has stepped on the court this season and has served as a reserve big in a pinch. There’s always space on a college team for a 6’10” dude who plays with passion. Morgan knew he was never going to get a lot of burn, but it says something about a guy who sticks around for four years knowing playing time would be rare and keep the same level enthusiasm for the team all throughout. His future isn’t in basketball; it’s in Washington. Don’t be surprised if you see Morgan 2048 banners in three decades.

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