Waiting His Turn

With an open spot in the starting lineup, junior forward Frank Young is looking to make the most of his opportunity.

Seldom in today's college basketball landscape do players sit on the bench for a couple of seasons before stepping into the starting lineup in their junior or senior seasons. For whatever reason, a lot of young players feel that they deserve to be starting from day one, without earning or proving anything on this level. Frank Young, therefore, is an exception to the rule.

"You don't see this very much, but it's the way college basketball used to be," explained Mountaineer head coach John Beilein. "You hoped to get into the game as a freshman. Your sophomore year, you're the eighth or ninth man, which he was. Then your junior year, you get to start."

So far, that profile fits Young pretty well. He did get a chance to start three games in last year's Big East Tournament when senior Tyrone Sally was sidelined with the flu. He proved himself in those three games by scoring 14, 12, and eight points, respectively, and was a mjor part in WVU's magical run to the finals. With his performance in New York City, Young gained the confidence of his coaches and, perhaps more importantly, himself.

"It gave me a lot of confidence to know that I could play well, not just in college basketball, but in the big games," said the native of Tallahassee, Fla. "Some of those games were the difference between going to the NIT and going to the NCAA tournament. Knowing that I can play well in that kind of situation definitely has given me a lot more confidence."

"That helped out a lot. I did not know what Frank could do until we saw him in the Garden," added Beilein.

Because of his experience and familiarity with the system, Frank is the logical choice to take the void in the starting lineup left by Sally's graduation.

"It's a good feeling, you know? I think I can handle the pressure of trying to come in after Tyrone," he said. "Those are some big shoes to fill, because Tyrone was really good, but I think that I can do it."

Perhaps the hardest part for Young has been sticking it out. It certainly wasn't easy sitting on the bench during those first two seasons.

"I'm not going to lie; it was frustrating not playing as much as I had been used to (in high school,)" he recalled. "I kept talking to Coach, and I kept talking to my mom. She really helped me keep my head on."

Beilein agreed that Hattie Young was very influential in keeping her son's spirits up.

"Frank, because of his mother, and his attitude, has been able to do things the traditional way," said the fourth year head coach.

While being a starter is certainly a goal of every college athlete, Young knows there's still plenty for him to work on.

"I've been trying to work on my conditioning, foot speed, and my defense. I'm going to try to contribute more to the team than shooting. I need to be better on defense, and better at rebounding. I'm just going to keep working at it," he said.

Young certainly has the shooting part down. He struggled a little bit during his freshman season, but given that he was still an infant in the system, it's easy to understand.

"Coach gives me the green light. If I'm open, he says to shoot it, and that's true of just about everyone on the team. As long as it's a good shot, I'll take it," said the 6'5" Young.

Beilein said that Young still has some work to do in his conditioning before the season begins.

"He's not in the type of shape he needs to be yet, but within two weeks I think he'll be fine."

As the season gets closer by the day, Frank Young is preparing himself for his new role as a starter. Even though there's still work to do, you can bet that he's ready to prove it was worth the wait.

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