Cal plays 'shot doc' for Young

Kentucky freshman James Young came into Tuesday night's game averaging just over 11 points per game. It's a solid figure for a first-year player, but not exactly what was forecast for a five-star recruit who came to Lexington with the reputation of a prolific scorer.

Kentucky freshman James Young came into Tuesday night's game averaging just over 11 points per game. It's a solid figure for a first-year player, but not exactly what was forecast for a five-star recruit who came to Lexington with the reputation of a prolific scorer.

Young, however, may have sent a message during the Wildcats' 105-76 win over Texas-Arlington that he is ready to break out. The Detroit native scored a career-high 26 points and reached double figures before anyone could break a sweat at Rupp Arena.

So what was the difference?

Young had been battling a mechanical flaw in his shot. Video review with the UK staff indicated his shoulders were falling back, causing his shot to be unbalanced.

"You're not going to be an aggressive consistent shooter on fadeaway shots," Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. "He was doing the same thing on free throws. So we stopped him and he shortened his free throw."

The result was an 8-for-14 shooting night from the field, including five 3-pointers, and a 5-for-7 effort at the free throw line. Calipari now wants Young to focus on penetrating more often, rather than settling for jump shots from beyond the arc.

"I tend to shoot the (jumper) too much, so I should either be pump-faking more and getting to the hole, or just rip through and get to the hole," Young said. "So I just have to work on that when I get into the gym."

Despite Young's reputation as one of the nation's most dangerous perimeter shooters, showcasing his ability to get into the lane as a result of dribble penetration will allow him to take that next step as a polished offensive player.

Young is now the third Wildcat to score at least 25 points in a game just five games into the 2013-14 season. Freshman forward Julius Randle scored 27 against Michigan State and freshman shooting guard Aaron Harrison scored 28 against Robert Morris.

"The whole team can score. If a guy has a hot hand for the night we just try to get him the ball," Young said.

Tuesday night was Young's night to go off for a big number in the scoring column, and it had been a long time coming for the five-star wing.

"It was a little pressure off my shoulders because I wasn't really doing what I should be doing," he said. "So I just got a couple extra shots up before practice, after practice, and I got here earlier and shot a little bit before everybody."

Heading into shoot-around it was clear the ball was coming off Young's fingertips with ease. He looked primed and ready for a breakout performance in front of the home crowd.

"Once I saw that the mechanics were right and I was doing what coach Cal wanted me to do, I knew it was going to be a good night for sure," Young said.

Offensive isn't the only thing on Young's mind these days. He's also being pushed by the UK staff to become an elite defender. Calipari believes he has that potential, thanks to his 6-foot-7 frame, long arms and quickness.

But just like many players coming out of the high school and AAU ranks, Young has never really been asked to focus on defense... until now.

"In high school, we just played like a zone. We didn't really do much defense, and we barely talked to each other," Young said. "Once we got here it was probably different for everybody, but we're getting used to it."

Developing that part of his game could help Young get mentioned with some of the other new superstars of college basketball. He has yet to be mentioned in the same conversation as UK teammate Julius Randle, Duke's Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins of Kansas, but if he continues to turn in performances like Tuesday, he could join the exclusive club.


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