The senior swingman didn’t know anything about defense when he first arrived at Lincoln. A lot has changed.
When Jahi Randall arrived, he was a great scorer.
Since he’s arrived, he’s become much more.
Randall is a senior swingman on the Abraham Lincoln High School basketball team and after spending his first two years at George Washington as a big man, he got to Lincoln with very little experience playing the wing. And he certainly wouldn’t classify himself as a stopper.
“I didn’t know anything about playing defense, especially at guard,” Randall said. “I didn’t know how to shuffle my feet, I didn’t know how to defend, really. It was hard because when you play for Lincoln, you play defense.
“That’s what our coaches tell us all the time. We have 15 guys on the team who can score. Anybody can score. But we have to win by playing defense. So that’s what we do. We all play defense, and that’s how we get our offense.”
Lincoln’s defense has been a major factor in the team’s success this year, and the success keeps rolling along to the Railsplitters’ best season of all time.
Lincoln, which bagged a city championship by beating Roman Catholic, hasn’t stopped and, on Saturday, won another big game.
The Railsplitters downed Neshaminy 77–70 in a back-and-forth Class 6A semifinal at Archbishop Ryan. The game propelled Lincoln into the state semifinals, where it’ll square off with Hazleton for the right to play for a state championship.
Lincoln was led by Tyree Corbett, who scored 29 points to go along with 20 rebounds. Shakeir Morrison (13) and Khalif Mears (10) also had solid outings for the Railsplitters, who needed the strong effort to knock off sharpshooting guard Chris Arcidiacono, the brother of Ryan, who guided Villanova to an NCAA championship two years ago. Arcidiacono scored 35 in the loss to Lincoln, three days after his 51 points helped the Redskins make it to the quarterfinal.
Randall wasn’t a major factor in the scoring column, netting one point, but that was primarily due to picking up two early fouls against Arcidiacono.
Scoring is fun for Randall, who averages 10 points a game, but he wasn’t too disappointed with his low output. He was too busy celebrating the huge win and the historic run his squad is on.
“This is the best season Lincoln ever had, a lot of people are saying, and we’re not close to being done,” Randall said. “I like scoring, but I didn’t mind. I spent a lot of time on the bench because of foul trouble, so I tried to help us every way I can.
“Neshaminy had a great crowd, so I just tried to be as loud as possible to make noise for us. Our fans were great, but we needed all the help we could get.”
Randall did more than just make noise.
The 6-foot-6 swingman is becoming a student of the game. He’s always interested in learning what Railsplitter coach Al Brown and his staff are passing on, and since he’s been learning, he’s a better player.
“The coaches are always making us better, and I don’t just mean in basketball,” Randall said. “They’re trying to teach us things off the court. They help us every way they can. But they do know a lot about basketball. They want us to have basketball knowledge, not just do what they say. They want us to know why we’re doing it.”
Randall knows why he’s putting in all the work. That is done because he wants to win a state championship to go along with the city championship.
Last year was another historic run for Lincoln. The Railsplitters brought home a 6A Public League championship and went on to win a game in the state playoffs before falling in the second round.
This year, they’ve won three games.
“I think after we beat Roman, we came into the tournament with a lot of confidence,” Randall said. “Last year, we were good, but I think we’re much better this year. We’re playing better, we’re more mature and we are doing what we’re supposed to do.”
Next year, Randall, who continues to improve in the classroom, will likely head to Community College of Philadelphia. He hopes to earn some credits before transferring to a school where he’ll continue his basketball career.
“This year, I’m more of a student-athlete than just an athlete, and that’s something our coaches are stressing,” said Randall, who is deciding between business and sports management as possible majors. “I’m doing better. I’m not doing as well as I should. I’m working a lot harder. Getting better in school is the most important thing.”
That’s №1, but winning a state championship isn’t far behind.
And the Mayfair resident knows exactly how important a state championship would be for the community.
“I wear my Lincoln basketball hoodie around a lot and everybody talks about our team when they see me around,” Randall said. “Everybody wants to see us win. We’re playing for each other. I definitely think we have what it takes to win. We just have to play the way we can.”
Oh, and of course, defend.