Young going from glue guy to leader at OSU
JACKSON TWP. Four years ago, Kyle Young was a starting forward for a highly ranked team with championship aspirations.
Fast forward to 2020 and while the setting has changed and he's added a few new tattoos and some memorable moments on the court to his resume, Young is still in the starting five for a squad that has designs on lifting a trophy or two in his senior year.
This time, instead of wearing the purple and gold of the Jackson Polar Bears, he's rocking the scarlet and gray of Ohio State. His senior season of high school was highlighted by a Division I state championship; he's hopeful his senior season of college hoops will add Big Ten and NCAA glory to the mix.
"It's much different ... the competitiveness the game and the level of the game we're playing at right now is really high," Young said. "The Big Ten has been the best league in the country the past few years. I'm trying to do my best, to be a great leader, and to help our young guys along."
With Young as one of the anchors of the rotation, Ohio State has gotten out of the gate with five straight wins, including a road win over Notre Dame. They're ranked No. 20 in the most recent Associated Press poll and with games against North Carolina and a nationally-ranked Rutgers team coming up, the Buckeyes will have plenty of chances to climb in the polls if they can continue winning.
The 6-foot-7 Young, who has been hailed as a so-called glue guy willing to do all of the little things a team needs to help it win games, is averaging 5.4 points and 6.2 rebounds game so far this season and has committed just one turnover in five games. After initially committing to Butler and switching to Ohio State when head coach Chris Holtmann made the move from Indianapolis to Columbus, Young has been a consistent part of the rotation throughout his time with the Buckeyes.
He admitted that it's odd realizing that he's a college senior playing his final season at this level and with his undergraduate degree in sports management already in hand.
"It's flown by and it feels like it went by too quick," Young said. "I feel like I can still remember a lot of my experiences as a freshman and I can see our young guys going through it now, so I'm trying to help them."
Having earned his undergraduate degree, he's now in graduate school and while he isn't quite sure what area he wants to work in once he's done with school, he's hopeful to extend his playing career as long as possible and once that ends, to continue working in the world of sports.
He still talks regularly with his best friend, former Jackson teammate Logan Hill, who began his college career at Toledo before transferring to Mount Union, along with some of his other high school teammates. He's also in touch with some former rivals, such as Buffalo guard Jayvon Graves, who graduated from St. Vincent-St. Mary.
Other former Federal League rivals are holding down starting spots at other Division I programs, including former Lake star Chandler Vaudrin for an undefeated Withrop team, proving that the quality off play - and players - in the league during Young's days with Jackson helped produce players capable of excelling at the highest level of college hoops.
It's a level Young and the Buckeyes are determined to maintain even though it figures to be an unusual year the rest of the way, just as it has been to this point in the season.
"It's been interesting ... everything is a lot different this year, from having no scrimmages to the season starting later and not really being sure we were going to play at one point," Young said. "We've been blessed being able to play five games so far even though it's weird to not have fans. The games have almost felt like a scrimmage atmosphere, but we're super motivated after last year with us playing our best basketball toward the end of the year, rolling along, and to see it end like it did was very disappointing."
The abrupt ending the the 2019-20 season due to COVID-19 - including the cancelation of most conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament - left teams across the country wondering what may have been and according to Young, that kept the entire Ohio State team pushing ahead even during times when they had to quarantine and work out on their own at their homes.
Now that he and his teammates are able to put their hard work to use on the court in game action once more, Young appreciates the opportunity to play and to see if he can't have another senior season that sees him cutting down nets and hoisting hardware.