Young At Home In Music City

While Sam Young might have been "going through Hell,'' as 35 players -- including the entire first round -- were selected ahead of him during the NBA Draft Thursday night, Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace believed that getting Young early in the second round with the 36th overall pick was "sort of a gift from Heaven.''

The fourth-leading scorer after four seasons at Pittsburgh, Sam Young was taken just one spot ahead of sophomore DeJuan Blair in the second round, even though both were projected to go sometime in the first.

"I never would have fathomed that he would be available at 36 when I woke up (Thursday) morning,'' Wallace said. "That's what happens often in the second round. He's going to add to our athleticism, our overall toughness, defense, (and) he's a good scorer. Sam Young was a big-time player in the Big East this year. He was first-team All-Big East, the strongest conference in the country.''

Young also talked about his circumstances.

"I was expecting to go earlier, but I think like this is a great fit for me,'' Young said. "So, I definitely can come in here and make a home in Memphis. They have a lot of young players here, so I feel like I can come in here and develop with them. With my toughness and athletic ability, I should fit in great here.

"Playing in the Big East is a tough game every night, and I don't think you can be successful without playing good defense. Our coach at Pitt, Jamie Dixon, prides himself on playing great defense, and that trickles down to the players. I think we were a great defensive team, so I think I bring that to the table.''

Memphis also selected Connecticut giant Hasheem Thabeet in the first round, the second overall pick, and added forward DeMarre Carroll from Missouri late in the first round (27th overall). All three players, Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said, would help improve his team's defensive play and toughness.

"Sam's going to beat you up a little bit on defense,'' Hollins said. "He's an aggressive guy and a tough guy. ... We need guys to get in the passing lanes and getting up and down the court and pressuring the opposition.''

Even though Young noted that he "got plenty'' of his shots swatted by Thabeet, the former UConn star countered with how rough it was to play against Pitt.

"It was tough playing against Sam and Pitt,'' Thabeet said. "And we lost to them twice, so that was real tough. But now, we're teammates, and we have a chance to play together on this young team.''

Young appeared to be extremely happy about that opportunity.

"I don't know too much about Memphis, but I do know a little bit about the team, how young they are and developing and how they have a chance to be a good team in the near future,'' Young said. "And I'm just happy to be a part of it. The toughest transition for me, probably, will be just being a rookie again.

"I think, more than anything, you're coming from a place where you were depended on a lot and were one of the go-to guys. Now, I'm at a place where I'm one of the new guys, a rookie again. And you have to prove yourself all over again. So, that's going to be one of the biggest transitions for me.''

But after the way he steadily improved through four years at Pitt, there's no doubt that it should be a smooth one for Young.

Panther Digest Top Stories