Broward High Schools

Legendary Ely basketball coach to be inducted into Broward County Sports Hall of Fame

Ely coach Melvin Randall is pictured during the FHSAA 7A final Saturday February 27, 2016 in Lakeland, Florida.
Ely coach Melvin Randall is pictured during the FHSAA 7A final Saturday February 27, 2016 in Lakeland, Florida. For the Miami Herald

From a Broward Middle School basketball title proving elusive, Melvin Randall’s coaching journey, steeled by persistence and belief, will come full circle when he is inducted in the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame.

The ceremony will take place Oct. 23 at the Broward County Convention Center.

Randall’s illustrious 25-year run to 553 wins and a record eight state titles began with him coming up short on the middle school level despite having some of the best records. That provided the legendary Pompano Beach Blanche Ely boys basketball coach fuel to change the narrative that he “can’t win the big one.”

“Getting in the Hall of Fame means a lot to me because in six years coaching Crystal Lake Middle and my team going 9-0 or 8-1, I could not get past McNichol or Everglades Middle, now known as William Dandy,” Randall said. “Maybe it wasn’t my time. After that I never looked back and worked even harder to prepare those kids.”

Randall said he was taken aback by the email notifying him of his selection.

“The announcement threw me a little bit,” Randall said. “I am excited about it. I feel very, very blessed.”

The eighth state title Randall won this past March, on its own, made it an easy call by the selection committee. That Randall has won multiple state championships at different schools puts him in a category by himself.

Randall led Deerfield Beach to its only boys basketball state titles in 1997 and 1999. He then turned Ely into a dynasty, winning four state titles in a five-year span from 2012-2016.

“The run that we have had over the last seven to eight years is really something that I have been preparing my staff and kids for,” Randall said. “What puts us on top is preparation and our players buying into the program. Preparing them at a level that they will be able to compete with anyone.”

Randall credits his longevity to finding a new challenge in each season and strong support from a staff led by long time assistant Reginald McNair.

Randall said his competition with Dillard’s Hall of Fame coach Darryl Burrows, who he calls a close friend, has brought out the best in him. As for the biggest influencers in his coaching career, Randall cites his high school coach John Keister, Dillard girls basketball coaching legend Marcia Pinder, Richard ‘Butch’ Ingram, Wade Edmond, Greg Samuels and long time Cardinal Gibbons volleyball coach Louise Crocco.

Their impact, and staying true to the principles of an unrelenting man-to-man defense have helped Randall reach the pinnacle of the coaching profession, highlighted by him winning 2015 USA Today National High School Coach of the Year after leading the Tigers to a 28-0 record and 7A state title.

“I’m always looking to get better,” Randall said. “I am not going to relax and expect anything to come to me. I still have that energy to work hard and get those kids ready for not just basketball but the next chapter in their lives.”