An NCAA rule passed in January allows the 2012-2013 Houston Cougars basketball team and programs across the country to get a jump-start on the season by staging summer workouts overseen by coaches.
After a 15-15 season under third-year head coach James Dickey, Joseph Young and the Cougars are taking advantage of the provision allowing players eight hours per week with their coaches — two of which can be spent on the court and six that are reserved for weightlifting and conditioning.
“The part of the game I’m working on most is my handles, not settling for jumpers on the outside and really attacking on defense,” Young said. “If you don’t have defense, you can’t play this game.”
To fill the void left when leading scorer Jonathan Simmons (14.7 PPG) declared for the NBA, the Cougars are looking for their talented crop of freshmen to mesh well with a group of veteran players who have experience contributing, but are not satisfied; a mold that Young seems to fit perfectly.
“(Young) had a good freshman year; he was on the all-freshmen team so we expect a lot more,” Dickey said. “Joe’s a third year player … he redshirted but we look at him as a third-year player.”
The Cougars welcome in a nationally ranked five-man freshman class to go along with their eight returning scholarship players. Under Dickey, Houston improved from a 4-12 conference record his first year to 7-9 last season.
For Young, who averaged just over 11 points in 30 minutes per game last season, there is a list of things to improve upon. However, his coach believes he can be a trusted veteran.
“He and TaShawn (Thomas) are guys that saw significant playing time on the court,” Dickey said. “We expect them to be a leader on and off the court.”