I've written before that it seems that every basketball recruit between the height of 6'4" and 6'9" all think they're headed to one position in college - small forward. And who can blame them when wings dominate today's professional game? So it seems like it's tough to honestly recruit a power forward prospect without being disingenuous about where they'll play.
Today, Pitt got a commitment from what seems to be the exception, true power forward Mike Young.
Young is ranked by ESPN as the 67th prospect, while Rivals has him just outside the top 100. Both have him as a 4-star player. He's a back-to-the-basket player, who at 6'8" has the size mix it up in a power conference. As with all big men, whether he'll have the physicality to do that remains to be seen, but Young professes to have the desire to knock people around in the paint.
More on Young after the jump.But, of course, his desire to bang inside doesn't mean that Young doesn't want to be an all-around player:
No matter his stop, though, Young was mostly a back-to-the-basket player who utilized post moves to get the job done inside.
The past few months, Young has made a concerted effort to become more well-rounded and versatile offensively – and it's paying off.
"I expanded my perimeter game," he said. "I'm the first one to the ball, and I play so hard, I can get inside too."
At the Pangos All-American Camp, Young showed that he has become a difficult matchup for opposing forwards. He consistently knocked down 3-pointers and perimeter shots, and was also very aggressive going off the dribble. Moreover, he was one of the better rebounders throughout the weekend.
Through 19 EYBL games with the NJ Playaz, Young averaged 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds.
"I'll do anything that helps my team have a chance to win," he said. "If I have to do something, I'll do it."
The New Jersey Playaz AAU team continues to be a well of talent for Pitt. Recent recruits from the team include Ashton Gibbs, Tray Woodall, Chris Jones and Isaiah Epps and goes back to Brandin Knight.
But even more than his Playaz roots, Mike Young is truly coming home. The Mckeesport native transferred to two different schools in New Jersey from Shadyside Academy to gain recruiting exposure. Understandable since the level of high school and AAU basketball in western Pennsylvania isn't particularly well regarded. It seems to have worked since he picked Pitt over offers from UConn, Xavier, Memphis, NC State, West Virginia, Seton Hall and his other finalist, Florida.
After a year at Hudson Catholic, Young is switching Garden State schools again, going back to St. Benedict's where he'll team with consensus top-20 prospect Tyler Ennis to form the nucleus of what should be a national championship contender.
And that brings me to the concern with Young. I get why he left Shadyside Academy. New Jersey basketball offered a kid like him exposure that he just couldn't get here. I get that. But then bouncing from St. Benedict's to Hudson Catholic back to St. Benedict's is a concern to me. The last player Pitt recruited with an extensive transfer history didn't last too long. Perhaps that's an unfair comparison - and I hope it is - but I think that has to be at least a bit of a concern.
But that's for another day. Today, Pitt secured the biggest hometown basketball prospect since DeJuan Blair. And despite Pitt's success recruiting Philly, New Jersey and New York, the program has to lock up local guys like Young when they come around. He's a fantastic prospect in a position of need where he may be able to contribute significantly as a freshman.
Welcome home, Mike.