Meet the Cats: There's logic to James Young's UK love affair

jtipton@herald-leader.comOctober 7, 2013 

  • James Young

    Uniform number: 1

    Height, weight: 6-6, 215

    Position: Guard

    Class: Freshman

    Hometown: Rochester Hills, Mich.

    High school: Rochester

Most prospects take several campus visits. If for no other reason, the trips provide perspective on the ultimate college choice. Or the fun that's supposed to happen on recruiting trips makes the-more-the-merrier the operating principle.

Not so for James Young. Like the old joke about Texas townspeople being surprised when the governor sends one ranger to quell a riot (one riot, one ranger), Young did not need to see other programs before committing to Kentucky.

"This was my only official visit ...," he said. "Once I came here, I fell in love with the place."

UK fans might ask, What's not to induce lovey-dovey feelings? Young shares the sentiment.

"I love the campus," he said. "I knew we had a great team coming in. Great coaches. Great facilities. So I actually like it here and really wanted to come here."

When reminded that prospects typically visit more than one school, Young said, "I love the place here a lot. This is my dream school."

Young grew up in the greater Detroit area (Rochester Hills, Mich.). Not exactly fertile ground for Kentucky.

Yet there is a logic to Young's affection for UK. For one thing, former UK star Tayshaun Prince has played most of his NBA career for the Detroit Pistons. Prince had caught Young's eye.

"He was a great player," Young said. "Once I had a chance to (visit) and they offered, why not take it?"

Young called Prince "a great scorer. He can shoot from range and can take it to the hole. I really like that."

Prince scored 1,775 points in his UK career (1998-2002).Another former UK player gave Young a reason to connect with the Cats. He played on the same Detroit-based AAU team ("The Family") as Joe Crawford, who scored 1,438 points for Kentucky (2004-2008).

Young recalled watching Crawford play for The Family, then later for UK.

"Great player," he said. "And he could score a lot, too. I see myself playing after his game a little bit, too."

UK Coach John Calipari also noted how he noticed that Young had the good habit of playing in a crouched, ready position. "My other guys, even Julius (Randle), they play standing straight up and down," the UK coach said. "You can't play that way. You're not quick enough."

Young comes to Kentucky billed as a shooter. While discussing Young's "slippery game," Calipari mentioned the freshman's need to improve his core strength in order to absorb the bumps and shoves that are part of a drive to the basket.

"I call it 'bulldog,'" Calipari said. "You can bulldog if you have to. He doesn't have that yet. ...

"But he can really score and he's really skilled."

Where Kentucky plays Young remains fluid. He expects to compete with Aaron Harrison for playing time at shooting guard.

"I'm more of a shooting guard," he said. "But I can play the 'three' also because I can rebound and really jump."

His vertical jump had not been measured yet when reporters spoke to UK players in early September. "But I can really jump," he said.


James Young

Uniform number: 1

Height, weight: 6-6, 215

Position: Guard

Class: Freshman

Hometown: Rochester Hills, Mich.

High school: Rochester

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com.

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