The state of Michigan’s top high school basketball recruit is headed to Kentucky, as Rochester High’s James Young announced his college decision today on national television.
Young’s commitment was a poorly kept secret in recent days, as widespread reports indicated he would commit to the Wildcats after making an unofficial visit to the school two weeks ago.
“Playing basketball for a national championship — that’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Young said, adding that the opportunity to compete at Kentucky’s great facilities and campus helped solidify his decision.
Young, a 6-foot-6 guard/forward, is regarded as one of the 10 best high school seniors in the nation by every major scouting service. He ultimately chose Kentucky over a cavalcade of other perennial powers, most notably Michigan State, Syracuse and Kansas.
“They were all good schools, but (Kentucky coach John) Calipari is more of a family guy, and I’m a family guy, too,” Young said. “I feel like he and I had a lot in common.”
During his announcement, which aired on ESPNU, Young was joined by his inner circle of family members, who he said helped him settle on Kentucky as his destination. He proudly displayed a Kentucky T-shirt to signify his decision.
“We are very, very happy and excited and overwhelmed, but also blessed,” said Young’s mother, Tiplance Vernon. “It’s the day he’s been waiting for. He’s been playing basketball since he was 3 years old.
“Coach Calipari showed a lot of love for his kids. It was about basketball but also about academics. I know (Calipari) is going to keep him safe. For James, he has never been away from home, so I wanted him to go somewhere that I know he would get the same love as he’s gotten at home.”
A highly touted player since his freshman year, Young averaged 25.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a junior last season while attending Troy High. His season was highlighted by a 49-point performance against Clarkston in February.
Young transferred to Rochester in August, just days before the school year began and is expected to bolster coach John Pleasant’s basketball squad this winter.
“I’m very excited for him,” Pleasant said. “In the last six weeks that we’ve got to work together, (I’ve seen) that he’s very deserving, he works very hard and puts the time in. He’s a great kid and extremely humble.
Having coached against Young for the past three seasons, Pleasant has had a front-and-center look at the Kentucky-bound senior.
“He can score the ball every way possible,” coach Pleasant said. “He can shoot it from anywhere, NBA-range and beyond, he gets to the rim well, you can post him up. Sometimes you have shooters in high school, sometimes you have slashers, but he can just score, period. And he’s very unselfish.”
Young said he will be in attendance Friday night in Lexington for Kentucky’s midnight madness event that kicks off the basketball season.