Young Love

Arkansas' players, coaches, fans and future players put the full-court press on Memphis prep star Thaddeus Young at the opening of basketball practice at Bud Walton Arena on Friday night.

Nothing like having the last shot and your destiny in your own hands.

No matter where he ends up playing his college ball, Memphis Mitchell prep star Thaddeus Young (6-8, 210) will probably take several of those big-time, game-deciding shots next season.

But it also describes what the University of Arkansas is getting this weekend with a player that is regarded as one of the top three players in the country and also sports a 4.0 grade point average.

Young, who averaged 28 points and 14 rebounds last season, got the full treatment from some 2,000 Razorback fans, current players and even future UA players on hand Friday night for the Razorbacks' first practice.

"It was crazy, especially the fans chanting my name and wearing t-shirts that said ‘We want Thaddeus,'" Young said. "I've had a little of that on my other trips, but not like this. Also all the players are trying to recruit me and the recruits were trying to recruit me. That made me feel really special."

He didn't expect so many fans since Arkansas head coach Stan Heath decided against having a Midnight Madness and just went with a 7 p.m. open practice.

"I have never seen this many people come out just for a practice," Young said. "I thought that was pretty crazy. They love their basketball up here."

He was impressed with what he saw on the court during the Razorbacks' two-hour workout.

"I thought they looked great," Young said. "They played with a lot of intensity in practice and they did everything hard. I was very impressed."

This was the third time that Young had visited Fayetteville, being here for the Real Deal on the Hill AAU Tournament last spring, coming back for an unofficial visit in early September and taking his official visit this weekend.

"Arkansas really has a lot to offer both academically and with their basketball program," Young said. "I always enjoy being up here and being around these players and the coaches."

He's also visited Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Kentucky and considered Memphis and Tennessee- but has since eliminated the Vols.

"I have it down to five schools - Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, North Carolina and Memphis," Young said. "I can see myself playing at any of those five schools. I can certainly see myself wearing an Arkansas uniform. We'll just wait and see."

All of those schools will find out his decision when he announces his choice on Monday, Oct. 24th.

"That is the day that he will make his commitment," noted Felton Young, Thaddeus' dad and a former NBA player. "As of right now we are looking at schools and some time next week we will sit down - Thad, myself and (his cousin and attorney) Mr. (Tim) Carter - and finalize everything."

Memphis has asked him to take an official visit next weekend, but that's not going to happen.

"I just don't see any use in doing that," Young said. "I'm around there all the time. I know everything about them I need to know."

The Razorbacks also officially hosted Hargrave Military Academy guard Stefan Welsh - who has already committed to Arkansas - as well as fellow future UA player Michael Washington (6-10, 230) and Springdale Har-Ber junior Michael Sanchez (6-9, 210).

Welsh - who committed to Arkansas without even stepping on campus - made it clear he was working on getting Young to Arkansas.

"We are going to have a top five recruiting class nationally," Welsh said. "I think we are at a good point with Thaddeus. He sees the direction we are heading and that's upward. It's just a matter of time before the city of Fayetteville erupts. We have great players, great fan support, great coaches and it is only a matter of time before the Arkansas Razorbacks are back to the level when we won the national championship in 1994."

Certainly the Youngs will be glad for the recruiting process to come to an end because of the numerous phone calls they get at home about the player's situation.

"I think it is getting kind of a little crazy right now," Young said. "All the people calling the house is wild and I think it is kind of getting on my dad's nerves right now. It's kind of killing me, too."

"He is mostly ready for it to be over," Mr. Young said. "I'm just going to back him up 100 percent on whatever decision he makes."

Young is needed to play the post on his high school team, but developed his perimeter game through AAU action and many see him either playing shooting guard and/or small forward.

"When I have gone in to talk to all the coaches, they ask me what did I want to play," Young said. "I just told them I didn't want to play in the post in college. It's going to be real important for me to play some of the 2 and some of the 3."

Young will get a chance to visit the UA's business school on Saturday morning, watch practice again on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. and then attend his second Razorback football game this season at 6 p.m.

It's the business school that is foremost in the mind of Young, who was on hand for the Razorbacks' season-opening football win over Missouri State.

"I have really taken a hard look at the business school at each school I have been to because that is what I am going to major in," Young said. "I'll get a chance to take a look at Arkansas and I'm sure I am going to be very impressed because of all the success they have had up here. I want to go to a place I can play right away and make an impact, but it's got to be a full-rounded situation as well. Arkansas has done a very good job impressing me on both."


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