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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Men's Basketball

Young learns new role with veteran help

When Joseph Young brings the ball across midcourt in a practice scrimmage, his first inclination might be to pull up on his man and drain a deep 3-pointer. Instead, he passes to a cutting teammate on the wing.

This is becoming the norm for Young as he makes the transition from scorer to point guard. Young had signed a letter of intent with Providence, but wanted to stay close to home after his aunt experienced heart problems.

“I love my family and my aunt, she’s the one who raised me,” Young said. “She wants to be able to come to my games, and she wouldn’t have been able to make it because of her heart transplant. I took that into consideration, and I wanted to stay here with UH.”

Initially the NCAA ruled Young would lose a year of eligibility after backing out of his letter of intent, and would begin competing as a sophomore. Instead Young is sitting out his freshman year as a redshirt.

Though he cannot participate in games yet, practice gives him the chance to grow his game.

“When it first came to me that I had to sit out for the year, it hurt me a little bit,” Young said. “But I knew that sitting out this year would make my game better and allow me to take it to a different level next year.”

The leading scorer for a Yates High School squad that was ranked No. 1 nationally by five major polls last season, Young is an electric scorer (27.1 points per game as a senior), but he has impressed his teammates with his how he has transitioned his game to work within the UH offense.

“When he first got here, he was a really good shooter, he can run off seven or eight shots in a row,” senior point guard Zamal Nixon said. “But that may not always be the best shot. But because he’s hitting it, it looks good. At the next level there are a thousand guys who can score — that’s not what they need.

“From when practice first started to now, that’s where he’s really improved, because now he’s turning down a lot of shots that he normally would take. He’s making better entry passes to the post. He’s not looking to shoot it every time. He’s hitting the paint looking to kick it out to the open shooter and make plays.”

Nixon is just one of the many veterans who have been guiding Young and trying to get him ready for the college game.

“His last game was a high school game,” Nixon said. “He doesn’t know how it’s going to be yet. Sometimes you’re on the road and you may think you’re getting fouled, and they might miss it. My thing with him this year is getting on him and letting him know that sometimes you might get fouled, but every time the ref isn’t going to call it. Your focus shouldn’t be the foul but finishing through the contact and trying to get that basket.”

Nixon has looked out for Young as he is his likely successor as the starting point guard.

“Joe is definitely one of my little brothers,” Nixon said.

“I definitely see the potential in him and how good he can potentially be if he keeps working.”

Young has already conquered one side of Scott Street during his high school career, and now looks to take over the other side next season.

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