“The Energizer Bunny”
His Community College coach, Reggie Howard, called him the “Quiet Assassin.” Loyola Marymount Head Coach Max Good called him the “Energizer Bunny.” Self called him “bouncy” and compared his skill set to Julian Wright.
So who exactly is Kevin Young?
You might remember him from the first game of the year. Against Towson, Young played 14 efficient minutes going 6-7 from the field with 13 points and 7 rebounds. A pretty impressive output for a guy playing his first official game in Allen Fieldhouse.
More likely, you might remember him from the Ohio State game where he had a similar stat line (6-8 from the field, 14 points, and 4 rebounds) in 24 minutes of play. He also took two impressive charges and made the best assist of the game – faking a three pointer and delivering a bullet pass to Robinson for a timely dunk that “energized” the crowd to the loudest it was all game.
Sandwiched in between the Towson and Ohio State games were seven modest performances, where Young averaged only five minutes of playing time and had no significant statistical impact on the game.
Through nine games, Young has shown that with additional minutes comes additional output. So why hasn’t Self played him more?
When a player is beyond the seventh spot on Self’s depth chart, he’ll often come in for a few minutes, and on the first mistake, get pulled not to play much again the rest of the game. Young only has five turnovers on the entire season. His defense has been solid. His energy has been a spark off the bench. And he looks like a guy KU fans will quickly get behind for doing all the little things.
You have to think Young proved to Self that he deserves a longer leash after Saturday’s game. As Self put it, “I haven’t seen that, or if I have seen it, then certainly we’ve made a mistake by not playing him…But that was something today like his coming-out game.”
Perris High, Loyola-Marymount, Barstow C.C.
When Young was a senior at Perris High School (Calif.), he logged three triple-doubles. He averaged a double-double for the season. He grabbed 31 rebounds in a game – twice. At Loyola-Marymount, Young broke the freshman record for rebounds (224) and rebounds per game (7.2). He also broke LMU freshman records for blocked shots and steals.
After his sophomore season at LMU, Young enrolled at Barstow Community College to focus on academics. Once he got those back in line, he signed a grant-in-aid agreement to play for San Diego State. Before he was able to get on the Aztecs campus, the opportunity to play for Kansas arose and Young decommitted to Bill Self.
Steve Fisher vs. Bill Self
Young’s decision to break his grant-in-aid with SDSU in favor of Kansas became somewhat of a national story when Aztecs Head Coach, Steve Fisher, went straight to the media to complain. He told the San Diego Union-Tribune:
I’m disappointed that a young man who I am very fond of would not feel an obligation to honor an eight-month commitment. And I’m equally disappointed in a program and coach I’m very fond of to pursue a player who made an eight-month commitment.
Young had every right to decommit from SDSU as the grant-in-aid he signed did not bind him to the school the way a national letter of intent does. A player is only allowed to sign one letter of intent during his career, and Young had already exhausted that signature with Loyola-Marymount.
Fisher continued, “Unfortunately, the only people who suffer in this situation is us because we passed over three or four very talented players because we did honor our commitment (to Young).”
Interestingly, Self responded to Fisher by telling the Lawrence Journal World:
“I don’t blame coach Fisher for being disappointed at all because Kevin did commit to them…but Kevin also told them he wasn’t going to San Diego State before we recruited him, so we didn’t steal him from San Diego State by any stretch.”
Whether Self and Co. contacted Young while he was “committed” to SDSU is up for debate. Young states that he spoke with Assistant Coach Kurtis Townsend and expressed interest in coming to Kansas in May. Young said that Townsend told him to talk to Fisher before he took a visit to KU. Once Young spoke with Fisher, he visited Kansas and committed. Whether Townsend contacted Young or Young contacted Townsend is unknown.
It also doesn’t matter.
The coaching fraternity is a tight knit group. Self certainly doesn’t want to make a habit of pissing off his brethren. At the same time, Fisher came off as desperate with his comments. The letter of intent is a powerful tool for small schools in small conferences. In this instance, he could not rely on it.
I’d also be remiss not to mention that Fisher was of course fired from Michigan in 1997 when he was the at the helm of one of the biggest college basketball scandals in history. Under his watch, booster Ed Martin allegedly paid Michigan players hundreds of thousands of dollars. In short, Fisher has very little room to be telling off other coaches.
Kevin Young has not said much this year. Perhaps he has made the effort to let his play do the talking. If that’s the case, his play was yelling as loud as the Allen Fieldhouse crowd was on Saturday. Self perhaps put it best when he said, “That’s the Kevin Young we thought we recruited. Maybe this will give him the confidence moving forward. We could use another weapon.”
Or an assassin.#kubball, Allen Fieldhouse, Basketball, Bill Self, Kansas, Kevin Young