Friday, February 1, 2013

Persistence on and off court defines Kevin Young’s journey to KU

Kansas forward Kevin Young celebrates a dunk by center Jeff Withey against Belmont during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Kevin Young celebrates a dunk by center Jeff Withey against Belmont during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.


There’s a fence near St. James Catholic Church in Kevin Young’s hometown of Perris, Calif., that stands just 3-4 feet tall but once looked like the gates of Troy to young Kevin.

Every Sunday starting at age 4, Kevin would follow his father, Kevin Young Sr., down to that fence and figure out a way to work his skinny frame over the chain-link barrier.

The leap was easy for Kevin’s father, a 6-foot-7 former San Jacinto College basketball player who routinely joined friends and family members on the outdoor court for pick-up games. Getting to the other side was a little tougher for Kevin, but always worth it because it started a passion for the game that would lead him to four different schools and countless thrills, most notably those he has experienced at Kansas University, where the 6-8 senior forward starts for the nation’s No. 2-ranked team.

“I think that’s the earliest memory I have of basketball,” Young said. “I remember dribbling on the sideline and I got to shoot when they were picking the teams. I just fell in love with the whole thing.”

Basketball cast such a strong spell on Young that, if left on his own, his obsession easily could have kept him from playing at a level his talents merit. Whenever his passion tugged him too far in one direction, a powerful force in his life tugged hard in the other direction. Young’s mother, Alicia Morales, admitted to being more strict with her son than most parents.

“He wasn’t allowed to go out in the streets, he wasn’t allowed to go to house parties, he had a curfew at 10 o’clock,” Morales said. “Everywhere I went, he went. If I went to a baby shower, he was there with me.”

First stop of many

As Young’s basketball talents blossomed — he first dunked as an eighth- grader, said Missouri recruited him throughout high school and North Carolina coach Roy Williams told him he would sign him after he attended a year of prep school — his mother’s academic expectations kept pace. Morales said no when her uncle asked Young to join his traveling team and, later, made her son repeat English and Spanish classes, even though he passed them the first time.

“His grades were good but not by my standards,” Morales said. “I knew they weren’t good enough for him to go Division I, and I wanted him to have that option.”

The summer after his senior year of high school, Young was invited to the Reebok All-American Camp and signed with coach Bill Bayno at nearby Loyola-Marymount in time for the 2008-09 season.

“I saw an opportunity to get playing time right away and I jumped on it,” Young said.

The playing time came, even when the coach left after just three games because of health reasons, and, with assistant coach Max Good elevated to head coach, Young had a blast despite LMU’s 3-28 final record.

“My freshman year I just jacked up a crazy number of shots,” he recalled. “I played 39-40 minutes a game, I was a starter and we did as much as we could.”

During his sophomore year, things changed. Good, with whom Young still keeps in touch, began giving his minutes to younger players. Young stewed as he watched others play in his place and often stared into the crowd toward his parents, trying to explain with a look that he had no clue what was happening. The issue never was the forward’s ability. Good liked Young then. He loves him now.

“He has an extremely high motor, he’s active, he’s tireless, he has a great deal of toughness,” Good said in a telephone interview. “You don’t usually associate toughness with someone of his body type, but he’s very tough and he has a relentless refuse-to-lose attitude.”

What Good witnessed, through the ups and downs of those two seasons at LMU, was merely the beginning of Young showing just how tough he could be.

A college student out on his own now, Young did not have his mother there making him study, holding basketball as a motivational carrot. The state of his basketball career consumed him. After deciding to transfer, Young let his grades slip.

“I just wanted out of there,” he said. “I wasn’t happy anymore.”

Putting in the work

Unable to transfer to a Div. I school because of his poor grades, Young enrolled at Barstow Community College about an hour away from his home. He was placed there by Fresno State, which wanted to bring him on the following semester, but he never played a minute of basketball during the fall of 2010. While focusing on his grades, Young worked as an unofficial assistant coach. Being around the team gave him the opportunity to design practice plans, draw up plays and, most importantly, stay in shape and keep his game sharp.

While at Barstow, Young got wind that the Fresno State coaching staff was likely leaving and found himself looking for another path, this time with the help of San Diego State. That led him to San Bernardino Junior College, just 20 minutes from his home, where he loaded up his schedule and passed 31 units during the spring of 2011 to regain his Div. I eligibility. He never suited up at SBJC either, but did practice with the women’s team regularly, which allowed him to round out his game.

Those who knew him at both places saw the same player that KU fans see today — a happy, high-energy, afro-wearing athlete who operates as if he gets paid per smile.

“I’ve never seen him be anything but humble, but thankful,” said Mark Fraser, a former Bartsow assistant coach. “He would always say, ‘You guys gotta realize this might be your last year playing. You gotta do everything you can every chance you get.’ He constantly was talking about what a wonderful experience it was to play ball, even at Barstow. They were lucky to get there is what he would tell them. Nobody knew he was going to Kansas, but the guys really respected him even then.”

If there’s such a thing as basketball karma, it soon found Young.

Shortly after graduating from San Bernardino in 2011, and two days before leaving for Puerto Rico to play summer ball with the national team (he was eligible because his grandparents were born there), Young received a call from Kansas assistant coach Kurtis Townsend. 

“It shocked me,” he said. “I wasn’t really expecting it. For Kansas to call was out of nowhere. I never would’ve thought I’d be given the opportunity to play here.”

A day after talking to his parents about the conversation in his grandmother’s front yard, Young took a phone call from KU coach Bill Self.

“He told me he’d never seen me play, but he’d heard a lot of great things about me and he liked my energy,” Young said.

Even though he had committed to San Diego State, Young said he felt he owed it to himself — after all he had done to keep basketball in his life — to check out KU.

“The first thing that went through my mind was that Kansas was a bigger stage,” he said with a smile. “I always remembered when I was looking at Missouri, people told me I wouldn’t be able to play in the Big 12 and this was an opportunity to prove them wrong. So I came here on an unofficial visit and I just never really left.”

A part of history

Each time Young reached a turning point, his parents left the decisions to him. Others did not.

“To us, Kansas is like the holy grail,” said Fraser, who watches every KU game with a group of Young’s Barstow buddies. “When he said he had a chance to go to Kansas, I said, ‘You go there for the education, buddy.’ I said, ‘If you get to play, if you even get to step on the court, you are blessed.’”

Good credits Young’s path and persistence — from his immediate impact at LMU to three transfers, a stint as dorm president, a coaching gig and regular scrimmages with nine women — for landing him in the position he’s in today.

“He already had an incredible motor,” Good said. “But going through all of that probably hardened his nose even more. I’m sure he’s tickled to death to be where he is and I’m tickled to death for him.”

For many athletes, the appreciation part of the experience usually comes much later, years down the road when the letter jacket no longer fits and the newspaper clippings have started to yellow. Not Young.

“Every time I watch the intro video and they show all the past players and all the history, it’s like, ‘I’m a part of this now,’” he said. “People don’t always understand that they’re living in history, that they’re creating history. I’m just grateful.”

Those who know him best don’t need to hear it to know it.

“It doesn’t come into conversations when we talk and stuff, but I understand it,” said Young’s father. “Every time I see him play, I can tell.”

Added Morales: “I always knew he would get back to playing because I knew how much it meant to him. What I like, when I see him out there, is he’s enjoying it. He loves it. And I’m just so proud that he made it here. He considers this home.”


Priest Fontaine 9 years, 8 months ago

Bravo Young Kevin. Go go gadget arms! Go go gadget legs! Go go gadget fro!

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago

Roy Hobbs.

From the movie.

Not the book.

For real.

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago


A real nice job of stringing a lot of episodic beads into a nice necklace of a story.

hawk316 9 years, 7 months ago

jaybate, sweet metaphor for a very nice, well-written story.

MinnesotaJay 9 years, 8 months ago

Great story. Glad you're a Jayhawk, Kevin!

yates33333 9 years, 8 months ago

This is a good kid. He needs to thank God daily for his parents, especially his mother. What a great world this would be if all parents were like them.

Bridgett Walthall 9 years, 8 months ago

I read that in Bob Davis' voice. Every time.


April13 9 years, 8 months ago

God had nothing to do with it. Sound like a great kid, great parents and amazing persistence. This team is just loaded with stories of overcoming obstacles. Kevin is an easy guy to root for.

Brianna Zaleski 9 years, 7 months ago

God had nothing to do with it.


Jack Jones 9 years, 7 months ago

Whether I agree or disagree with them > those first 7 words have absolutely no place on this site.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

“To us, Kansas is like the holy grail,” said Fraser, who watches every KU game with a group of Young’s Barstow buddies. “When he said he had a chance to go to Kansas, I said, ‘You go there for the education, buddy.’ I said, ‘If you get to play, if you even get to step on the court, you are blessed.’”

Mark Fraser is a wise, wise man.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

It took me a second to figure that out - but yeah - IS !

wrwlumpy 9 years, 7 months ago

In the words of Thornton wilder, "A truer word was never spoken."

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

I agree. There are a couple of players that get most of the attention, but without Releford and Young - we are big time screwed.

actorman 9 years, 8 months ago

You are so right, jhwks. KY has been my favorite player on this team since he started coming in for a few high-energy minutes last year. I love, love, love watching him play! And after reading this, it makes me root for him even more.

And how great are the tributes to KU in this article? Self should clip it and hand it out as part of his recruiting package.

And speaking of Self, here's yet another example of what makes him the greatest coach in the land. He hadn't even seen KY play, but he had heard enough that he went with his instinct and invited him to visit KU.

JayhawkJack98 9 years, 7 months ago

Anyone rember last year in the tourney when we were looking bad, KY would get a crazy epic offensive rebound and it would totally turn around the teams energy I still call him Kevin "Criticial Rebound" Young casue he was such a big part of our sucess and he definetly has a good career ahead of him as a coach

REHawk 9 years, 8 months ago

Maybe some day our coaching staff will reveal how they found this kid. Kevin embodies much of what the hoops world of fellow coaches and fandom recognize as Bill Self's genius: his talent to plug in the near perfect players for his system. Withey, Young and Releford work tirelessly to bind the snug puzzle pieces of current winning Jayhawk basketball. Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor look to be players who will follow in their footsteps. Tharpe, too, probably.

Jason Wilson 9 years, 8 months ago

Cant remember which article exactly, but a week or two back there was a little snippet about Townsend looking around for a forward transfer who could give them 10 minutes a game, and from what I inferred, one of KY's former assistant coaches pointed Townsend toward him.

Ron Prichard 9 years, 8 months ago

A great magician never reveals his tricks.

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago

There is always a woman involved. A saint usually.

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago

The biggest question to me is always, what was Max Good, who replaced Bayno at LoyMary thinking playing younger players more minutes than Kevin?


Jonathan Allison 9 years, 8 months ago

Kevin was only a sophomore! How many younger guys did they have?

RJ King 9 years, 8 months ago

I wondered the same thing. Good said that ability wasn't the issue, and that he had a great attitude, so then . . . what?

Ben Kane 9 years, 8 months ago

I love KY. Until he cuts his afro I'm not cutting my jew-fro.

Only Self forsaw how much we would need this young man and what he could do for our team. In Self I trust!

Kevin Huffman 9 years, 8 months ago

REHawk - I agree....the one thing missing from the story is WHY Kurtis Townsend "called out of nowhere".

Justin Kruse 9 years, 8 months ago

I love watching Young play. For some reason, he brings back memories of playing NBA Jam. He's heating up...He's on fire!

actorman 9 years, 8 months ago

Yep. And not only his defense, but his rebounding. In fact, Withey could learn a thing or two about rebounding from KY. As great as Withey is defensively, he could be a better rebounder.

Waylon Cook 9 years, 8 months ago

Self has pulled off some impressive stuff in his time here. But Kevin Young is one of my favorites. I have literally as a grown man cried watching his energy! He is THE Ohio State killer btw!

LOVE THAT HE'S HERE! And he needs to end this with a NCAA RING!

Sally Presson 9 years, 8 months ago

Wow, what a story, way to go Kevin, we have always loved you, but love you even more knowing your story. Fans love their Hawks without even knowing them personally, but knowing how hard they've worked to get to this place is absolutely awesome!!! Sure glad you chose KU Kevin and yes, you'll be in the history books of KU basketball, I look forward to watching you every game and every game you're getting better and better!!!

Rock Chalk!!!

actorman 9 years, 8 months ago

It's so nice that he appreciates the experience the way any of us would if we had a chance to run out that tunnel and join the KU tradition.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 8 months ago

Kevin's odds for making the NBA may be long, but his size, ability, character, exposure to big-time pressure at Kansas plus being fluently bi-linguil will serve him well with a long career overseas plus a future in coaching if he so chooses.

Angel Morris and Alicia Morales need to get together and write a "how to" book on raising basketball-precocious children!!

Brian Skelly 9 years, 8 months ago

Credit Self, Townsend, and whomever gave us the lead on him. The one thing Self understands extremely well is the concept that teams are puzzles that have pieces. And finding the right pieces is sometimes as important as bringing in McDonald's All-Americans. Thankfully for us, Self is really good at doing both.

I look at Relaford in somewhat the same light. Relaford, not unlike many H.S. super stars was under the impression he was going to be everyone's all American. I think it was a hit to his ego when he realized he was essentially becoming a role player -- and talented one at that. Self convincing him (or he convincing himself) of redshirting his Sophomore year cant be minimized. My guess is 90%+ guys who were approached with that would simply transfer or leave. The fact he stayed is/was huge. And we're seeing the benefits now.

Im also quite sure Self would love for Ellis or Traylor to take minutes from Young. But the reality is we play better as a team usually when Young and/or Relaford are in there. And neither Ellis or Traylor has really stepped up to take those minutes away. Both are improved, and Ellis shows flashes of the player we all thought he'd be. But Self trusts Young more, justifiably so I might add.

Young wont get drafted. My guess he could play somewhere (D-league, Europe) for a few years if he'd like. My guess is he'll stick around in some coaching capacity as well at some point. He clearly understands the game well, thats for sure. Good piece here fellas.

actorman 9 years, 8 months ago

Excellent points, BP. One quibble: It's Releford, not Relaford.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years, 8 months ago

Young is one the biggest surprises of the year, and a big reason for our success.


Other than that...proceed.

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago

"In the Matter of Kevin vs. Perry: One Possibly Very Good Bun, or an Assortment of Three Very Tasty Ones"

Part 1

Board rats ask: why is Kevin averaging 22:16 mpg and Perry only 14:21 mpg? Perry is a five star. He was not only supposed to play more, he was supposed to come in and start. What is with this skinny guy with the Fro? What has he got on Self? :-)

Those advocating for Perry getting more minutes are undoubtedly influenced by the following stats.

Perry is about 4 percentage points better on the FT line than Kevin is (.593 for Kevin to .628 for Perry, both of which suck and indicates why Dir, who .882 of his charities is in at the end so much, but I digress.)

Perry has made nearly half the TOs Kevin has made in about 2/3s the minutes.

Kevin and Perry are probably close on assists on per minutes played.

Perry is blocking way more shots on a per minute basis.

Perry is probably scoring more on a per minute played basis.

So: why DOES Kevin get to play more?

What kind of CIA Reputedly Created Al Qaeda (aka the toilet) /Axis of Evil Reputedly Is Any Country the OilCos Want/Dubya Reputedly Abused Cocaine/Obama Reputedly Has a Birth Certificate that Makes Him Ineligible to Be President/Benghazi Explains Everything Including Hilary's Hair/Invading Mali for Gold to Replace Missing Gold Reserves in NY Fed Vault/Covert Syrian War Leading to Iran Invasion/China and Japan Fighting for Oil Under the Senaku Islands kind of conspiracy is going on here?

What kind of Conspiracy Theory Smearist wet dream is underway here?

There is no possible justification for Kevin Young to play more than Perry Ellis, right?

Just these few facts.

Kevin's FG% is 52.5%, while Perry's is 43.5%.

Kevin is getting just shy of double the RPG of Perry in a little less than 1/3 more minutes.

KU is undefeated with Kevin starting.

And there are hard to quantify factors like on ball defense, off ball defense, "energy," degree of explosiveness out of one's position, and frequency and quality of help defense, how fast the motor runs, how long the motor runs, how well one anticipates Jeff's strengths and covers for his weaknesses, and frequency of coming up with a big stop, or a momentum changing dunk, and finally which direction the score spread moves when one enters the game.

What we need to do here is to look at this glass of Kevin and Perry as two half full glasses, maybe two 3/4s full glasses.

Kevin gives this team the largest dose of the most important things it needs.

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago

Part 2

One could make a case for starting Perry over Kevin. But its efficacy would all be based on how much better Perry might get by the end of this month, rather than on optimizing wins this month. It would all be based on how much better the team might be, if Perry were able to sharply improve his FG%, RPGs, and steals in one month. And it would be making a leaping assumption that all of Perry's intangibles were either on a par with Kevin's now, or would be within a month of starting through February.

This is a defense first team.

Kevin appears the better defender in all regards except blocks.

Defense first teams need all the rebounding they can get and Kevin is the more productive rebounder.

Defense first teams need all the scoring efficiency they can get. Kevin is the more efficient scorer.

Defense first teams need momentum changing stops and momentum changing transition baskets. Kevin seems to do these things more frequently than Perry.

Defense first teams also need defense stretchers. Ben and Travis are doing this, so the fact that Kevin is not is not desirable, but can be tolerated. Further, when Perry is in, his shooting has not produced a stretching effect. And surely 14 mpg for 20 games should be enough time to manifest a stretching effect, shouldn't it?

Now Perry.

He is a freshman who continues to improve incrementally. He is now on February 1st to the point, that Self can go to him pretty much anytime and not worry about a major drop off. He doesn't bring a huge offensive spark and a big surge in our lead, but he also doesn't bring a sharp drop in the scoring spread. He brings shot blocking. He brings low TOs. He brings. He brings slightly more scoring. And best of all, he brings relatively few TOs. And he shoots a bit better from the line. And he has a reputation of being able to hit the 17 footer out front, even though he hasn't yet done it in games.

What seems obvious to me in this breakdown of both players games is that Self has them in exactly the roles they are best at given their currently evolving strengths and weaknesses.

Kevin helps your defense first team establish its defensive strangle hold from the get go. And when your scorers get you the lead, you come with Perry who gets you a little more scoring per minute and fewer TOs per minute, and a little better shot blocking, And recall Kevin's a higher percentage scorer on stick backs, and transition baskets created early by your fresh defense. And when the opponent starts getting sloppy and fatigued from the defensive pressure applied by Kevin and the starting five, then Perry comes with the blocks and greater weight and banging power to sustain the lead. Its always nice when a sub enters and tends to huck up fewer TOs per minute.

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago

Part 3

All Perry has to do to get MORE minutes than Kevin is sharply increase his FG%, RPGs, and steals.

But that's a tall order.

Especially in February, when whistles become increasingly lodged in the esophagi of referees, rather than in the mouth being blown.

That's a lot of betting on the come, when in fact Self doesn't have to bet on the come at all. He can just keep starting Kevin, and letting Kevin keep getting a little better all the time, or mark time, and he can keep bringing Perry along slowly and steadily and let Perry keep chipping away at FG%, RPGs, and steals, and maintain the winning formula, and while being able to reasonably anticipate a very useful, steady trajectory of Perry's improvement by March 1st, so that Self can then have both his wins, and two very serviceable 4s, plus Jamari Traylor whom Self keeps developing also.

In short, Self can have his cake and eat it, too.

Think of Self as a baker (even though he is probably more like a card shark weighing odds of kinds of hands he would like to play in March).

Yes, he could wind up with one very tasty bun, Perry, that might make more overall contribution to the first team, if he were to take some losses to get him there, plus the risk of the loaf falling.

Or Self can keep steadily baking three buns, Kevin, Perry, and Jamari, and so have a very tasty assortment ready for the March Madness party a month from now.

Now, I know I didn't have time to actually calculate the per minute stats for Kevin and Perry, and someone here no doubt will, and as usual, I will have underestimated some things and overestimated others by eyeballing, but I really do get the feeling that Chef Bill knows what he is doing here.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years, 8 months ago

I'm not sure the majority of the fanbase is calling for Ellis to get more minutes than Young, in so much as just more minutes in general to assist and develop. In fact, I haven't seen or talked to one person making that argument.

I think anyone who watches games knows that Ellis is improving, but doesn't deserve to start or play more than Kevin Young. We want Ellis to get more minutes as time goes on, but nothing can justify him taking over for Young this season... least not as of yet.

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago

I believe slayr and several others think its time to start Perry.

Robert Murphy 9 years, 8 months ago

Kevin is so entertaining. He is one of those players who can throw the ball away, miss two free throws and fail to guard his man who makes a three pointer in a period of one and a half minutes and cost the team 7 points. I also love the way he plays with his feet just like he probably learned in junior high. So cute. We love to romanticize.

Kye Clark 9 years, 8 months ago

Come on Jaybate. Haven't you been listening to Fran Fraschilla tell us EVERY time he calls a KU game how Ellis has been surging lately? What else do you need :)

All kidding aside, I like Fraschilla, and have (as most fans I'm sure have) noticed the uptick in Perry's game lately. I think a lot of fans have perhaps noticed a slight regression in Kevin's game lately as well. At least it seems that way to me, with the eyeball test. I too am lacking the time to provide stats to verify this, but my guess is that if you look at Kevin's FG% over the last few weeks you'd see a decline, and you'd also notice an increase in TOs. Could be a natural ebb & flow and we could expect more of those bunnies to start dropping and his FG% start heading back north. Regardless of this, I think the direction of the two players has been the cause for much of the clamoring for the switch.

The other reason is because Perry has more of an offensive skill set. Maybe not refined just yet (as his PPG & FG% indicate), but it's there. And with the team struggling mightily to score (as yesterday's article pointed out), advancing the development of that set might prove to be more advantageous come March than relying on Kevin's intagibles and energy. Right now, when Withey comes out of the game, we have no post scoring threat.

I am definitely in the camp that Ellis needs more minutes, but it is as Reuben says, not necessarily at the expense of cutting into KY's minutes significantly. Just more to speed up the development process because I think we're starting to see him "get it", and his learning curve is evening out from the steepness we saw earlier in the season.

So I guess I'd say I wouldn't necessarily say it's time to start him, but feel that increased minutes are definitely in order.

Jake Smucker 9 years, 8 months ago

This is true. In some recent games, when the D sags off of Young at the top of the key, he has no choice but to continue ball reversal because of his lack of shooting AND driving ability in the half court offense. That sagging D removes the threat of Withey inside and everyone else driving. Perry has already driven to the hoop mildly effectively out of that situation. He just needs to show that he has the ability to hit that shot.

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago


Perry can have all the minutes he wants, even be a starter, if he just raises his FG% from 43% to 52%, and ups his RPG by about a third?

14 minutes per game against opponent's second stringers for 20 games has been a heckuva long trial period to do that. Kevin has been getting his numbers against opponents' starters.

  1. Why do you think Perry hasn't yet matched Kevin's shooting percentage and rebounding and steals, when playing against the opponents' second string?

  2. Why do you think Perry's FG% and rebounding and steals on a per minute basis would increase against the opponent's starters?

These are the two questions I keep asking myself each time I ready slayr and others advocate for loading the minutes up on Perry.

Remember, Perry is already averaging nearly 14.5 minutes per game.

I have trouble understanding how, say, another 10 minutes per game against stiffer competition is going to suddenly accelerate his performance.

I like Perry and want him to do well.

But I have never understood the reasoning behind taking guys who struggle against second stringers and then giving them an extra 10 minutes against starters is sure to cause a nonlinear improvement in a player.

Maybe if you and the other august advocates of this POV were to make this a little clearer for simple old me, then I could get on board.

I am always eager to learn a new trick. :-)

Kye Clark 9 years, 8 months ago

Jaybate - Well it would take more research than I have time to provide, but surely you must understand a couple of things:

  1. Stats accumulated early in the season against a bunch of cupcakes are different that stats accumulated during the Big 12 gauntlet. Even Perry benefitted from this, as I think his career high is still against whatever pushover we played to start the season. So what I would be interested in is viewing stats since conference play started. If we did that, we may see Perry's production close to Kevin's production. Maybe not, but that's my guess (I may look into it when I get home from work). Also we must take into account the learning curve of a freshman which is bound to be different than that of a senior. Perry's stats, amassed during a steep learning curve early in the season while perhaps in Bill's toughening box as you might put it, might be dragging down his FG% and rebounding stats. In short, you can't look at the stats in a vacuum. And the third thing as it relates to stats to consider is the roles. When Kevin is on the floor with Jeff, he is the garbage man. Of course his FG% is going to be high when his role is to clean-up misses. How often is he asked to create his own shot? Rarely. When Perry comes in, Self has mandated that he go get his own shot. To create offense for himself. To be aggressive. It's different, and thus I would expect the percentages to be different. The numbers don't tell the whole story, as they are often skewed by circumstance & timing.

  2. The idea of getting bettter against stiffer competition. How do you think any player gets better? By playing against guys at the YMCA? Or by playing against high-level D-1 opponents? There are many examples of this. It is why Self is often asked if a down Big 12 is hurting his team as it relates to preparation for March. It's why it was widely reported that last year's team got better once Jamari & Ben were able to practice with the team. Going against stiffer competition makes you better. You can't learn to hit a major league curve ball playing in double-A. Sure you might struggle for awhile, but it's usually necessary in order to elevate one's game. That's pretty much universally accepted fact I would think.

KansasComet 9 years, 8 months ago

Enjoy the moment Kevin, the time on the floor does not last foreve, so make the most of it. However, you will always be Forever a Jayhawk! Make your Senior Season one to remember!

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years, 8 months ago


I am requesting a 4-part analysis on why Kevin Young has recently developed the condition of launching wide-open, point-blank lay-ups 10 feet off the top of the backboard.

Please, thank you....go.

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago

Can't go four on this, Reub.

I have only seen him do it once.

Once seems pretty random to me.

If your memory is more accurate than mine in this case, then its pretty simple.

The opposing coaches have probably figured out recently a tendency of Kevin's that the defenders can key on inside and force him alter his shot so errantly.

If you watch all the generally successful first year rotation guys, you will observe over the course of their seasons a tendency to be very effective for 1-3 game stretches, after which they they suddenly play less well well, and then slowly climb back to greater effectiveness.

Many attribute this repeated fluctuation in performance first year players (whether older players getting their first season starting, or younger players getting their first season starting, or just in the rotation) to emotional ups and downs. A small part of it no doubt is. But the sharpness of these fluctuations has IMO more to do with:

a) injuries; and

b) opposing coaches identifying weaknesses and keying off them.

The latter is the learning curve of any new starter, young or old.

Each game, a player reveals more weaknesses, some of which may be exploited by an opponent coached to do so.

Once the player's weakness has been exposed, it is up to that player and Self to try to strengthen, or play away from, that weakness.

Often, the weakness takes only a small adjustment to fix.

Sometimes, it takes several weeks and games to solve it and the player's minutes have to come down while the fix is perfected.

Sometimes it can't be solved in a season and the player is relegate to few if any minutes.

If you seriously see a pattern of Kevin shooting the ball 10 feet off the top of the backboard, I suspect a coach has figured out a way to bump Kevin's shooting motion down low and on the way up, or something.

But more likely you saw a slippery ball play, or a random brain fritz on Kevin's part, and your mind is overgeneralizing it into a pattern.

This is as long as I could stretch it.


Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years, 8 months ago

Appreciated. And the "10 feet off the top of the backboard" comment was a bit exaggerated as you hopefully gathered.

But there have been multiple occasions recently...most notably against K-State...where he has missed easy-layins. There were also a couple against West Virginia.

Not implying my memory is better than yours, but perhaps I am more cognizant of negative events.

I believe they call that pessimism.

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago


You're not a pessimist.

You're just an optimist with high standards.

That's the way a friend of mine describes himself. :-)

texashawk10 9 years, 8 months ago

I think a factor in that may be KY anticipating contact and over compensating for that and when the contact doesn't come, he ends up throwing the layup off the backboard a lot harder.

Also, I agree with others that I think it's time to move Ellis into the lineup and bring KY off the bench. That doesn't mean that Ellis and Young switch minutes as well or that Ellis starts playing in late game situations. KY is playing 22 minutes a game and Ellis is playing 14 a game and that's about where their minutes need to be. One of the the problems with this team is that they have come out of the gate flat pretty regularly and with one of KY's best attributes being his energy, it would probably be better served coming off the bench after the under 16 TV timeout at this point in the season to try and give the offense a spark because struggling to reach 30 points in the first half won't get the job done all year, especially in March and April.

JayhawkRock78 9 years, 8 months ago

Had no idea of KY's road to Kansas. What a great story. Kevin, I'm that much more impressed with you. I saw you play at UT last month, and you DO BRING THE ENERGY!

Rock KYOUNG Chalk!

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years, 8 months ago

Perry has improved, but he is nowhere near where he would need to be to crack the starting five.

You're right. It would be great for the team...idealistically...if Ellis was ready. But he simply isn't yet. Unfortunately, he hasn't done near enough to justify being the guy to push Young out of the starting lineup.

Will that be the case in a month? Can't say for sure. But that's the way it is right now.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 8 months ago

+100, drgnslayr...Kevin has sixth man so written over him that he should be wearing number 6.

I say start Perry for two, he will mature and contribute that much quicker and, two, if there is a problem, KY is ready to roll!!!

Tony Bandle 9 years, 8 months ago

RJC..we will respectfully agree to disagree. :)

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years, 8 months ago

I'll say this Oak and Slayr,

If Kevin Young has any repeat performances like he had at K-State....and I'm referring to that 2-minute stretch where he miraculously had one of the dumbest series of plays I've seen a player put together since Nick Bradford......then I will reconsider my stance.

That was impressively stupid, and it actually became a liability to keep him on the floor.

But overall, until Perry comes in early and has a breakout game, I gotta give the experienced guy the nod.

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago


I am not trying to argue with you hear, but rather to tee one up for you and let you take a swing at it.

Perry would need to raise his FG% from 43 to 52 to equal Kevin's effectiveness in this regard. Kevin gets his 52 against the other team's starter. Perry gets his 43 against the other team's back up. Kevin also outrebounds Perry on a per minute basis by about a third, if my guesstimate is correct and he does this against the opponents's starters, where as Perry gets his against backups. Likewise, Kevin out strips Perry by about a third on a per minute basis, and does so against starters, not backups.

Question: What exactly will trigger a nonlinear improvement in Perry's FG%, rebounding rate, and steal rate, as a result of playing against FIRST STRINGERS instead of BACKUPs?

I reckon you have a logic to this, but I can't for the life of me understand it.

I mean, its not like Perry has been sitting on the bench all year. He has averaged 14.5 minutes or so.

What will trigger this nonlinear improvement in FG%, rebounding and steals?

Finally, why is it better to bring a guy in like Kevin as a backup, when he turns it over more, and to start a guy like Perry, when he shoots a sharply lower FG%. It makes more sense to me to start Kevin and follow with Perry.

But I'm an old flub who misses things from time to time, so, slayr, the ball is on the tee.

Swing away.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years, 8 months ago

Well done, jabate.

My points exactly. Factor in the fact that he brings more energy and a higher degree of "everywhere-ness" to those stats....and at this point, it's a no-brainer.

Young over Ellis....for now.

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago

"Ends and Odds and TGIF"

Part 1

~Brad Stevens and Butler just got beaten by the Bilikens of Saint Louis U. Remember them? They were a tough bunch we beat early. Good for the late Rick Majerus' boys and for their interim head coach Jim Crews. I hope he gets the head job.

~Stevens has his Butler team achieving again, at #9, but is it possible that his hand check driven defense is slowly losing some of the edge it gave him during those two Final Four runs? Ben Howland went to three Final Fours with the Hack'n'Slap, but then when other teams started doing it back, the edge evaporated and he had nothing new to replace it with. Is Stevens slipping into a similar situation? It took a few seasons for one trick Ben to begin to really struggle at UCLA.

~Michigan State just beat the Illini and continues to look like a lot better team than I thought they were, or would become this season. No wonder they played us close and stole it at the end, when we did not yet have Kevin, and had not yet figured out this weird and wonderful wide space offense with the "slide off the spots/push the hold" techniques that Self keeps addding pieces to each week.

~I've talked about the XTReme Game for several years. Now, Ohio U has to postpone a game, because of a gunman on the loose. XTReme Game meet XTReme Society.

~Regarding the XTReme Game, UNC's reserve guard PJ Hairston was accidentally given a header by his own teammate on a rebound and wheeled off on a stretcher. Gee, if the XTReme Game is here to stay, then it may be time to redesign arenas for on-court ambulance access.

~The Johnnies and the XCusers (read St. John's and Syracuse) will renew their rivalry next year, despite the XCusers bolting to the ACC. I wish some team like KSU would leave the Big 12, so KU could renew a rivalry. I feel so good about never playing MU in the regular season again that its just not an option to me to want to renew that rivalry. :-)

~Michigan is No. 1 doe for the first time since their cash and carry team of '92 was No. 1. Assuming the current team is on the up and up, this is a huge accomplishment by Michigan and John Beilein.

~KU's Kurtis Townsend also deserves a kudo for being a part of the early reconstruction of Michigan in the aftermath of that fiasco, when he acted as an assistant to Brian Ellerbe there 1998-2001, after Steve Fisher's forced departure, and during the nightmarish legal process that unfolded there after into a reputed Detroit numbers racketeer giving cash during the early 90s to among others Michigan's Fab Five.

TexasRockChalk 9 years, 8 months ago

What a great story and great young man! It's no wonder we see KY grinning from ear to ear out on the hardwood after reading about his personal journey to finding the elusive "Holy Grail" of college basketball.

Kevin, "You chose WISELY!"

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago

Part 2

~Its great to see Michigan back "the right way."

~John Beilein's last name is the hardest short name for me to remember how to spell correctly among active coaches. :-)

~Beilein is a fine coach. He rebuilt West Virginia into a fine program that Bob Huggins could take over and do very well with for a few years; then he came to Michigan and has raised it several notches from its days struggling under Tommy Amaker, who replace Brian Ellerbe.

~I believe Tommy Amaker also deserves some credit for what Beilein has done at Michigan. Amaker, a Coach K disciple, was rising star who seemed like a perfect fit for Michigan. But despite winning 20+ games 3 of his six years at UM, he only went 108-84 overall and never made the Madness. Michigan grew impatient with Amaker and replaced him with Beilein. But people forget and underestimate what Amaker was up against when he took over at UM. Though the major crimes that crippled UM Basketball were in the early 90s, the bulk of the sensational investigations and trials unfolded through Ellerbe's care taker era. So: when Amaker took over Michigan, it was like recruiting players to a toxic waste dump. Further, Amaker's 43-53 conference record at UM makes clear that he never really adapted to Big Ten butcher ball. He also had the misfortune of being there through a stellar run of MSU and Wisconsin Butcher Ballers. Still, Amaker built a foundation his last two years of two straight 22 win seasons, and matching 8-8 conference records, that meant Beiein did not have to start from toxic scratch, as Amaker had to do. And its fair to say Amaker has proven himself since by steadily rebuilding futile Harvard program from 8-22 to last year's 26-5 team that won the IVY and reached the second round of the Madness. He's having to rebuild again at Harvard, but after a slow start and a 10-6, over all record, Amaker has his team 2-0 and atop the Ivy again this year. Kudos to Amaker for hanging in. Though he may have found his niche at Harvard, I hope he gets the call at a major again. Maybe even Duke.

~Board rats seem more sanguine than me about this Okie State game tomorrow. I know OSU has underachieved a bit at 14-5 overall and 4-3 in conference, but they are a KU grade defense with a poor shooting offense. We saw West Virginia, a similar combination, give us fits.

~The good news is KU can leave it all on the floor against Okie State, because KU plays an 0-7 TCU team on Wednesday, not Monday. Yeeeee haaaaaaawww. KU may actually run and press against Okie State. My fingers are crossed.

Rock Chalk!

Steve Reigle 9 years, 8 months ago

What a great article about a great young man. And a fine ambassador for KU. KY is another I'm proud to say is a Jayhawk.

ku_foaf 9 years, 8 months ago

I have always liked Kevin Young. There were some comments made here about him early on implying he was not up to KU standards. He started out a little rusty last year, but continued to improve through the whole season, and is still improving. I like to watch him play. I love the way if he makes an error or loses the ball, he is determined to make up for it, and usually does!

He has really been a good player for us this year.

ironhead80 9 years, 8 months ago

First of all, Perry is not getting Youngs playing time, because Perry is not makeing plays and bringing that energy Young is performing. Young has that mentality and focus of what it takes to succeed in the game right now. I do wish Young can knock down that 12 to 15 footer, the defense gives him. Piper did that consistantly and helped his team out in '88

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago

Good recall on Pipe. He was so crucial to that team, because he could decongest it for Danny with the 15 footer, and in retrospect he doesn't get much credit for that.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 8 months ago

Awesome story.

If people are wondering about the recruitment of KY, this would have been when the Morris Twins and Selby went to the NBA. I think the Morris Twins both leaving really surprised the coaching staff and they needed the 10 minutes as someone pointed out. It was so late in the season that getting a HS recruit was near impossible. I remember that there are a handful of names in the transfer arena that came up. Kevin Young was one of the names. I also remember that the coach from San Diego State gave Bill Self an ear full for taking one of his recruits.

Anyways, I'm glad KY made the trip. It sounds like he'll have a bright future in coaching and will probably nudge some like minds down the same path he went.

Boouk 9 years, 8 months ago

I think Calipari cheated to get Rose to Memphis, and probably did with Tyreke Evans as well, then, with the UK job and no need to cheat anymore, simply bragged to Wall, Knight, Teague, and Andrew Harrison about his remarkable history of developing PG's and turning them into top 5 picks bound to have spectacular NBA careers. Seriously, if he doesn't cheat, we probably win the NCAA title last year. What a tragedy.

Joseph Kuebel 9 years, 7 months ago

Ya, coming back with the matching Chrysler 300's. Stuntin w his bro, didn't make complete sense. I also call bull. He's a scumbag, and I look forward to him getting caught someday soon.

702Hawk 9 years, 8 months ago

Way off topic but does anyone else think Mizzou is losing their road games on purpose? I think there is a possibility that they have accepted that they are not going to win the SEC and are now focusing on getting an 8 or 9 seed. The committee will have to through them in our region because it will be to perfect not too. That will get them a shot at us in KC.

FYI I really don't believe they are that dumb but it is a funny thought.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years, 8 months ago


I think they're losing road games because they're a joke of a program, greatly overachieved one year, and still lost in statistically the worst upset in the history of the NCAA Tournament.

...not to mention they're below-average human beings, which never equates to road wins.

mikehawk 9 years, 7 months ago

Great story. Wow! How does that happen? The Kevin Young story is one overlooked story that will only grow in the KU storied history, especially if this team has serious, deep tourney success. Neat kid, neat family. I appreciate the Perry/Young comparisons via the numbers, but Kevin is a "whole is greater than the sum of the parts" player. He is very difficult to quantify in value to this team. The qualitative aspects of his game that is egoless and willing to do whatever using a variety of skills, energy, hustle, and timed opportunity. I think if you research this year some of the early struggles for the team began to wane when he came into the starting lineup post-injury. It would really help this team if he could hit some of the wide opens they are giving him and daring him to shoot from 8 to 12 feet. They are guarding Withey to protect fromt he high/low action and essentially telling KY to "go ahead and shoot." Piper, as noted, could hit that shot. Roy had a player from Sweden, I think, whose name I can't recall who could drain that shot consistently. Please, Kurtis Townsend...why did you call this kid? Tell us the rest of the story. Does everyone realize this group of seniors have few Fieldhouse tunnel entraces left? May be some tears on Senior Night. Some of them may be mine.

nostradavid 9 years, 7 months ago

Mike, see picture of Pekka from Finland below.

Kye Clark 9 years, 7 months ago

Scrolling. Expand the energy to spin the mouse wheel once or twice and...PRESTO! The comment you didn't want to see has been "blocked" from your screen :)

Tony Bandle 9 years, 7 months ago

i.e.....don't read it. Nicely done, icthhawk316!!

flyingfinn 9 years, 7 months ago

Can't enough how much respect I have for his Mother. It is not the easy road that she took with raising him with tough love but it has sure paid off now in a truly wonderful young man.

nostradavid 9 years, 7 months ago

I still have a picture clipped from the newspaper of Pekka taking a rebound away from Shaq when we beat LSU. He was way above Shaq, and looking fierce. I don't think those guys had ever played against a native white guy from Finland. That was two weeks before we crushed Kentucky 150-95 in '89. (If I can find it I will scan it and share.)

Excellent story Matt. I enjoy watching a kid that is having so much fun.

Pekka blocks Kentucky

Pekka blocks Kentucky by nostradavid

Jack Jones 9 years, 7 months ago

KY v/s Ellis > How about 18-1? It would appear that the current player/playing status is working pretty well. That being said > It also seems to me that this is providing Perry the opportunity to build both self-confidence in his ability to bang with the big boys in the league > with obvious positive results, game by game. Having watched him during his HS career, it was clear he had tremendous talent > so much so that he really wasn't challenged often during that time, and I had a question as to whether he might be 'tough' enough for D-1 BB right away. That, plus I suspect he came to KU with the self-expectations of being ready, and then discovering that the difference between those HS opposing players and D-1 players, may have been both a physical, as well as a mental shock. At least, that could appear to account for his early play. However, as he continues to improve both in the toughness of his play, as well as his overall game > his immense talent will permit him to grow into a terrific KU player > sooner, rather than later > this season.

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