Junior to Watch: Thaddeus Young

While his peers were traveling across the country playing basketball in front of big-time coaches, Thaddeus Young, <i>TheInsiders.com</i> sixth-ranked junior in the country, was in a classroom – doing a far different kind of learning.

It wasn't because of his academic deficiencies. In fact, quite the contrary. Young is a 4.3 student who takes honors classes.

"He does all the things that normal kids just don't do," Memphis (Tenn.) Mitchell coach Jerry Johnson said. "He never gets in trouble and doesn't wear tattoos. He's strictly about the business of being the best."

And whether it's in the academic world or on the court, Young does a pretty good job of excelling – and that's why North Carolina coach Roy Williams stopped by the school to show his face to the 6-7 ½, 205-pound forward last week.

"He's got the total all-around game," Johnson added. "We can play him at point guard or center or anywhere in-between. The only weakness I see in him is that he needs to block more shots and get more triple-doubles."

Young averaged 22 points and 12 boards on a sophomore team loaded with at least two more D-1 players.

Young admits that he wasn't exactly enamored with the fact of spending five weeks in a classroom in a Connecticut prep school in the heart of summer while his buddies were excelling with Memphis YOMCA.

But with some convincing from Johnson, his parents and his guidance counselor, he was eventually sold on the idea – and he has no regrets.

"It was real hard for me because I'd played AAU for the past four or five summers," Young said. "I didn't like it the first week, but as it went on, I had a lot of fun and learned how to work hard and got a chance to interact with a lot of kids from overseas."

Young took four classes and excelled, but he plans on hitting the hardwood next summer in an attempt to solidify himself among the nation's elite.

Young is a big-time player who is versatile athlete who has a soft touch, plays hard, passes it well and also plays extremely hard. He'll still need to work to become a little tougher on the interior and also has to become better with the right hand.

Even though Young's father, Felton, was a former pro player who was drafted by the San Diego Clippers in the eighth round in 1978 out of Jacksonville University, the younger Young doesn't watch basketball. He just plays it.

Extremely well.

Young said there is no leader at this time for his services. He and Johnson rattled off a list that includes North Carolina, Michigan, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Tennessee, Kansas, UConn, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Indiana, Florida, Stanford and Georgetown.

"Everyone is in the lead," Young said. "It's too early in the recruiting process and I'm just looking around and listening right now."

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