One of the nation’s best basketball players will be on hand in Fayetteville to see the football team open its season on Sept. 4th.
Florisant (MO) North McCluer point guard B.J. Young (6-4, 170), who Scout.com ranks the fourth best point guard nationally and a top 25 player overall in the 2011 class, will take an official visit to Arkansas on Sept. 3-5.
“I love the Razorbacks and am real high on their program,” said Young, who averaged over 30 points a game this spring and summer for St. Louis GameFace. “Their coaches are great and were at every one of my summer games, called me as much as you are allowed to do and just made me really feel the love. I can’t wait to get down there and check everything out.”
His mom Charlotte grew up in Little Rock and he still has family there – something that should help out John Pelphrey’s Razorback program.
“When I was little we all talked about how great it would be for me to play for the Razorbacks, but it didn’t seem reachable,” Young said. “Now it is a very definite possibility. It’s kind of ironic how things have turned out. I’ve gone from a guy who hardly anybody knew about to somebody who has all these offers, including one from the school I dreamed of playing for while growing up.”
There’s also the matter of having a couple of friends – and fellow St. Louis area standouts – who would be at Arkansas with him in current Razorback tailback Ronnie Wingo and future UA wideout Keonte Minor.
“I actually use to play football with Ronnie Wingo in the JFL when we were little and we have stayed friends,” Young said. “Keonte and I have also been friends since we were little.”
Young has 16 offers, including ones from Arkansas, Indiana, Cincinnati, Marquette, Baylor, Iowa, Illinois, Iowa State, Illinois State, Providence and North Carolina State.
Not bad for a kid who had no offer entering the summer and has only played a half-season of high school basketball due to academic ineligibility one year and transferring another.
“As far as my blowing up this summer, I am not surprised because even though I haven’t gotten to play a lot of high school games, I have put in the hard work in practice and on my own,” Young said. “In fact, practice became my game – because I wasn’t getting to play in the real games.
“I was also at the gym every day during the summers working on my game,” Young said. “I mean every day. I think that helped my work ethic. I don’t think there is anybody out there who works as hard as I do because of that.”
It also helped his exposure that the Gameface got in some bigger tournaments this summer.
“I don’t think a lot of people knew about me because we were not one of the big Nike teams, but I always believed in my ability and just needed for the college coaches to see me.”
When the offers came rolling in, Young tried to be cool about it.
“I have just tried to stay humble and not get all caught up in that, but I do feel very blessed,” Young said. “It means all my hard work has paid off even if I haven’t got to play a lot of high school games.”
That led to an interesting assessment from Scout.com national recruiting director Dave Telep – who named Young his outstanding player at the 17-and-under AAU National Tournament in Orlando.
“B.J. Young may be the only guy I can remember that going into his senior year he could be an All-American but has never been All-Conference,” Telep said. “He's super quick and one of the hardest guys in the country to guard. He's a scoring point guard who made fast strides with his game this spring and then exploded in the summer, beginning with a scintillating effort at the NBA Camp.
“Arkansas trailed him hard during July and closed down their month with John Pelphrey standing courtside for his final game,” Telep added.
While there are a lot of nice facets to Young’s game, it’s getting to the rim that is his strong suit.
“I would say that the best thing I do is get to the cup,” Young said. “I don’t mean to sound big-headed, but I just don’t think there is any one person in the country who can keep me from getting there. There were times this summer when they somebody would come over and try to double and even triple me, but all that did was allow me to get the ball to my teammates and get them easy baskets.”
Young certainly got his points this spring and summer. He routinely topped 30 points, had several 40-point outings and even got into the 50s a couple of times.
“I’ve always been able to score,” Young said. “I have tried to work hard to make sure I could score in a variety of ways and I continue to work hard and try to get better all the time.”
He does see some areas where he needs to improve.
“I think I need to work on my 3-point shooting the most so that can become another strength,” Young said. “Of course, you can always get better at everything and never settle for just being good at something.”
Right now Arkansas is the only official visit that Young has set up although he is considering taking at least three others before making his decision.
“I’ve been talking to Indiana, Cincinnati and Illinois State about taking official visits, but I haven’t got dates on those yet,” Young said. “Arkansas is the only one that I am for sure going to go on.”
That official visit will happen during a weekend where the Razorbacks’ nationally-ranked football team opens its 2010 season against visiting Tennessee Tech.
He will likely see a couple of new friends during that weekend in Razorback commits Aaron Ross (6-8, 220) and Hunter Mickelson (6-11, 190), who led the Arkansas Wings to the national title.
The Wings played the Gameface earlier this summer with the Arkansas team going home a winner.
They would have played again in Orlando in the Final Four, but the St. Louis team got ousted in the Elite Eight.
“Ross is like a 6-8 wing with great skills,” Young said. “He can handle it, put in the on the floor and get his shot and then take smaller guys down and power over them.
“Mickelson is a long guy that can score inside, but also step out and hit the 3,” Young added. “If we all get together there at Arkansas, I think we can be unstoppable.”