BURNSTEIN OP-ED: Kentucky-signee & McDonalds All-American Young doesn’t get enough respect…at least not around here
It seems that Rochester All-American boys basketball star James Young gets more love nationally, than he does locally.
Young, a 6-foot-6 ½ senior swingman and three-time first-team all-state selection at the high school level, will be playing in college at Kentucky, a member of what some analysts are calling the greatest recruiting class ever.
He will conclude his time on the prep hardwood this week in the 36th annual McDonald’s All-American game at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois Wednesday night, the only player from the state of Michigan picked to participate in the prestigious affair.
ESPN ranks him a Top 5 recruit in the country. Last summer, Young was chosen to play in the U.S. developmental program and was selected MVP the Nike Global Challenge in July, where he led a group of Midwest high school hoop standouts to a tournament championship in international competition.
Despite his elite resume, Young finished third in the voting for the state’s Mr. Basketball award, behind Flint Beecher’s Monte Morris (Iowa State) and Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy’s Derrick Walton, Jr. (Michigan).
When the Gatorade Player of the Year award was given out last week, Young was once again passed over – in favor of Walton, Jr.
Some in local cage circles whisper that he’s overrated. The fact that he transferred his senior year from Troy to Rochester didn’t help him in the popularity department.
Well, personally, I think it’s all ridiculous. Not to mention flat-out wrong.
Anyone who thinks he’s the state’s third-best player – represented by the Mr. Basketball tally – has to go and get their head examined.
There was absolutely no question he was the top player in the state, the most dangerous, the one you had to worry about the most.
Period. Point-blank, fact.
This is no slight against Morris and Walton, who I know are lethal talents in their own right and will have knockout college careers.
But Young is at another level.
He’s the best high school player I’ve seen come through Metro Detroit since Chris Webber. His skill-set is rare and refined – he can shoot, score, handle, create, attack the rim, finish and lead in transition, defend and rebound. There are no flaws in his game, other than the fact that he is sometimes too unselfish on the court. And he’s the most coachable superstar I’ve ever come across, he doesn’t have a subversive bone in his body. He finished the 2013 season averaging a gaudy 26 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and five steals per outing, taking his team to its first district title in 25 years and first regional crown since 1950.
That all said, he gets hated on hard-core.
While people around here appear to want to try and poke holes in Young’s stature (yes, he didn’t look in peak form in Rochester’s defeat at the hands of Detroit Southeastern in the Class A quarterfinals, yes he lost his head-to-head match-up with Walton, Jr. on the hardwood back in December), scouts and experts without area affiliation call him a “once in a decade” type. In one recent “projection draft” put out by ESPN.com, Young is tabbed a future NBA first-round pick.
Only time will tell what becomes of this kid’s basketball career. The tools are without a doubt all there for a future making a living on the court.
I have enough confidence in his game to declare him a “can’t miss”, a shoe-in to have a chance at landing in the NBA. The way he competes is that legit.
And the people back home, the ones that doubted his abilities to succeed, will all be eating crow.