Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Former Pitt Star Gets His NBA Chance

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Former Pitt Star Gets His NBA Chance

Article excerpt

Michael Young would often turn to a mental checklist in the days and weeks leading up to the NBA draft.

Though he led the ACC in scoring last season at Pitt, averaging nearly 20 points per game, Young knew a series of factors were working against his dream of reaching the NBA.

He was a senior in a rare line of work where the age of 22 may seem old. He played on a team with a losing record, which removed a bit of the luster from his striking stat line. Most of all, he was a player trapped on a positional island, one who didn't fit the prototype of what many consider to be a small forward or power forward at the next level.

"When you watch enough basketball and you play basketball long enough, you know there are sometimes things that are out of your control," Young said.

Young didn't believe he would be drafted, but the Duquesne native never worried or succumbed to the doubt that could have easily consumed him. Now, armed with a two-year, two-way contract he signed with the Washington Wizards on July 5, a deal that provides him with a measure of security few undrafted free agents enjoy, Young is in an advantageous position that may have not seemed probable several weeks ago.

"I look at this contract not as security or not what I always worked for, but more as an opportunity to get what I feel like I deserve," Young said. "I've got to keep working and keep building, kind of like how I did in college."

Before he could find peace, Young first had to endure some uncertainty.

Despite a decorated senior season, Young did not participate in the Portsmouth Invitational, an annual tournament that serves as a showcase for the top graduating seniors in college basketball.He was not extended an invitation to the NBA draft combine.

In a nine-week stretch from March through May, Young relocated to Miami and trained daily. He underwent extensive strength and conditioning drills, practiced his shot and worked in half-court situations modeled after sets that various NBA teams run. The regimen was built around the central idea of molding Young into a wing capable of excelling in a pro game increasingly focused on speed and spacing. …

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