NBPA: Thaddeus Young Spotlight

RICHMOND, Va. --- Thaddeus Young is still recovering from an ankle injury and is unable to take part in games or drills at the NBA Players' Association Camp so he is doing what he's done so many times before - taking the scholarly approach.

On top of the equivalent of one game per day (one-half of a game twice per day), each player takes part in learning sessions that have very little to do with basketball directly, and "I'm learning little things from the lectures and from the coaches," Young said.

As one of the top five students in his high school graduating class, learning is something that comes easy. Most people know him as Thaddeus Young, "the basketball player," but what if he had never picked up a basketball?

"[They'd know me] as Thaddeus Young, the smart guy," Young said. "I have a 4.3 GPA and I'm top five in my class. They probably wouldn't notice me because not too many people notice smart guys."

This "smart guy" also has a versatile set of basketball skills that will allow him to name the college he wants to attend, and right now that list is longer than his 6-8 frame, but sources close to the situation indicate that UNC will be a major player in the end.

He is doing his homework, researching potential college destinations, to pare the list and make a college choice early enough to sign a letter of intent in November.

"I've been doing a lot of research on schools that are recruiting me," he said. "I take a couple of hours every day to get on a computer and see the student/teacher ratio, the campus life, how the coaches get along with players."

Young thinks the recent decision by the NBA to implement an age limit is the right one due to the fact that some kids aren't mature enough, but he insists that it would not have affected his decision: "Basically, it's just been put into my head that without a college degree you can't really do anything in life after basketball."

With so much to offer on the basketball court, he's been the recipient of more pitches than Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, but those come from coaches rather than players.

"A lot of the top-ranked guys are my friends," he said. "We play against each other on the circuit. They are basically just letting me make my own decision. I told them that's what I'm going to do, so they took that and just left me alone, basically."

And the top-ranked guys who are his friends: "Wayne Ellington, Tywon Lawson, and most of the Top 25."

Even when they aren't face to face, they keep in touch using some of the latest technology.

"I instant message [Tywon Lawson], and I talk to my friend Pierre Niles, Willie Kemp, and a lot of other guys. I call them sometimes too… We talk about how we did and how we played. They ask me if I'm going to get better and tell me to get well and they hope to see me in the next tournament."

It seems that the future North Carolina duo are keeping in touch every way possible to keep the Tar Heels in the back of the Memphis product's mind even if they aren't making the hard sell.

"I instant message with Tywon a lot," Young said. "The two of us recently just started instant messaging through Wayne [Ellington]. Those two are going to North Carolina, and that's how they know each other. He was like, 'Here's Tywon. Tywon wants to talk to you and stuff.' That's basically how we talk - Yahoo! Messaging."

Young plans to take his five college visits in early fall, in time to make a decision prior to the November early signing period.

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