Redshirt junior forward Leonard Randall II will not be part of the Duquesne basketball team in the 2018-19 season, Leonard announced in an interview with Youngstown radio host Chris Gunther on Monday.
Randall, a Youngstown native, played two seasons at Memphis before transferring to Duquesne before the 2017-18 season and will now leave The Bluff without ever suiting up for the Dukes.
In the interview, Randall said that he had battled mental issues throughout his career, beginning when he went away to high school in Arizona, and continuing through his time at Memphis and Duquesne.
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“Even before I got to Duquesne, before I got to Memphis, I struggled with depression and things like just being away from home,” he said. “That was new to me when I moved away. It hurt me in a way where I almost cost myself being able to play basketball at Duquesne. Fights with teammates, combative with the coach, things that just aren’t me. I didn’t know how to deal with it. At certain points in time, I let it get the best of me. I wouldn’t go to class. There are things that was just out of character for who I was. I really had to dig deep and ask myself if this is really what I want to do, things like that. It was a struggle. It was a challenge.”
Those issues apparently came to a head at some time in the last week or so, as Randall had been practicing with the team until recently. Randall described how his self-described mental issues contributed to a negative atmosphere for him at Duquesne and also said that he was bullied for his issues.
“I was bullied, harassed, taunted, stalked, everything that you can think of in terms — attacked — things that shouldn’t have happened to anybody, teammate to teammate, and they did,” Randall said. “In those situations, I was told that my safety would be guaranteed, as long as I don’t act out, I don’t respond, I would be OK and I would come back. That wasn’t the case.”
Despite all of that, Randall said that he wanted to return to Duquesne, but that the decision for him to move on was out of his hands.
“I wanted to come back because I felt that I worked really hard to put myself into a position to help my team win, to gain the trust of my coaches and my teammates back,” he said. “I did everything they asked me to do, better my relationships with my teammates, better my relationships with my coaches, better my relationships with the people around the school, just the community of the school, I cleaned my act up in class. My work effort on the court, that will never change. That was never in question.”
Randall claims that most of the issues stemmed from his relationship with one particular teammate, though he declined to name that individual.
“Me and one of my teammates could never get along,” Randall said. “I said some stuff to him earlier, last year. We got into a lot of arguments on the court. It was just a relationship that couldn’t be repaired. He took it upon himself to do the bullying, the harassment, all of the things that I know if I responded to, I knew I would be penalized at the maximum level because of the things I had already done. I did everything the coaches asked me to do. At the end, it comes out that I’m the one punished. I’m the one that’s not part of the team, part of the program anymore. It hurts, because I know how hard I worked. I really thought that Duquesne was going to be it. I thought Duquesne was going to be my place to go because of what happened at Memphis. So I thought that was my last stop, but obviously it wasn’t.”
Still, Randall says he has no ill will toward the Duquesne coaching staff or university and is thankful for his time there.
“Duquesne was one of the best thing that I could have done, because it helped me grow up,” he said. “Because of the situation I was put in, not having basketball, having to overcome the issues that I had to deal with. Getting into arguments with my teammates, being petty or not being coachable at some times, not doing the right things I was taught, not doing the right things I should be doing, the position that I was in.”
As to what’s next for Randall, he’s not quite sure at this point, but he wished to play basketball again, perhaps as soon as this season if he can find a team that is interested at this stage in the game. In the meantime, he wants to speak up about mental illness in the hopes that another young player such as himself doesn’t repeat the same mistakes that he made.
“I’m not sitting here looking for pity from the university or my coaches or my teammates,” he said. “That’s not it. I’m just here being honest about things that college athletes don’t really speak up about that they should speak up. …
“I just want to be a voice for people who don’t speak up, people who are scared to come out and talk about the things that are very private. People that do have mental issues, people that do struggle with handling certain things, I just want people to understand that it’s not embarrassing to have those issues. People that you think that never would do have them.”
Through a family member, Randall declined an interview request with Pittsburgh Sports Now. A Duquesne athletic department spokesperson declined to comment on Randall’s allegations. Sarah Spencer of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported that Randall was transferring from Duquesne. Gunther’s entire interview with Randall can be seen below.