Sam is Staying

Pitt forward Sam Young will return for his senior season. The 6-foot-6 Clinton, Md., native will not declare for the NBA Draft.

Sam Young, who averaged 18.1 points and 6.3 rebounds a game as a junior, earned most outstanding player honors at the Big East tournament in New York City and became the seventh player in Pittsburgh history to earn All-Big East First Team honors for the 2007-08 season.

"Talking it over with my parents and my grandmother, I realized this year would be a great time to work on my game," Young said. "There's always temptation [to go to the NBA], but I just thought if I wasn't going to fully commit, then why commit at all?"

Young said he never even considered attending the NBA's pre-Draft camp in Orlando, Fla.

"After the season I had, I thought about it a little," Young said. "But it's only one more year. I can finish my degree."

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon actually had to push the issue with Young. He told his breakout star that he had to at least consider testing the NBA waters. But Young was more concerned with working on his game and improving in the off season.

"Any time you're the Big East tournament MVP and All-Big East First Team, you're going to get these questions [about entering the Draft]," Dixon said. "But his goal is to graduate. He's all about the work that can be done now."

Dixon said Young needs to work on a few aspects of his game: perimeter defense, ball handling and decision making and playing without the ball on the perimeter.

His return means Pitt will have three of its five starters back from a team that finished 27-10, winning the Big East tournament and reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Along with freshman center DeJuan Blair and junior guard Levance Fields, Young's decision means Pitt will have its three leading scorers from the past season.

"I'm excited, very excited, [about next year]," Young said. "We're going to blow the roof off the place."

There had been some concern that West Virginia forward Joe Alexander's declaration for the Draft might influence Young's decision. Alexander and Young are close friends. The duo attended Hargrave Military Academy for prep school for the 2004-05 season. Alexander did not hire an agent and left open the possibility of returning to West Virginia his senior season.

NOTES – Pitt guard Mike Cook, who graduated from Pitt this semester and will walk at commencement on Sunday, is still working on his appeal to the NCAA for a medical redshirt. Dixon said Pitt, which has never had to deal with this situation in men's basketball before, will submit the appeal when Cook finishes it.

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