The Columbus Dispatch
Young is no longer overlooked on offense
Onetime afterthought now real scoring threat
In what, at the time, was to be his last game in Value City Arena, Kyle Young didn’t shoot particularly well.
It was March 25, 2017, and the Massillon (Ohio) Jackson senior missed nine of his 10 shots from the floor but finished with 10 rebounds and five points while playing all 32 minutes of a grind-it-out, 39-38 win in the Division I state championship game against Cincinnati Moeller.
That 10%-shooting performance wasn’t a true reflection of Young’s offensive potential. Now, after Wednesday night’s 85-74 win against Towson, Young is proving that the first three years of his college career weren’t, either. The fifth-year graduate forward hit both of his 3-point attempts and for a second straight game led the Buckeyes in scoring.
Once an offensive afterthought who made his contributions on tips, offensive rebounds and hustle plays, Young is emerging as a player capable of carrying an offense.
“His shooting has increased his versatility now,” coach Chris Holtmann said. “He can now guard different positions and play multiple positions offensively. He’s not as one-dimensional as he was in his career where he was really a rim-runner and long-post guy and layup-maker. Now he’s a 3-point shooter.”
That idea seemed far-fetched less than a year ago. Fourteen games into his fourth season at Ohio State, Young was 3 for 13 (23.8%) from 3-point range after having spent the offseason working extensively on his shot. That made him 7 for 42 (16.7%) for his career and the book, it seemed, was written on Young.
Then he went 1 for 3 from deep in a two-point home loss to Purdue on Jan. 19. Since that game, Young is 19 for 34 (55.9%) from behind the arc and has hit his last six attempts, four of which came in Sunday’s win at Penn State.
“It’s been feeling good,” Young said of his outside shot. “It helps when you’ve got teammates that believe in you and coaches that want you to shoot the ball. Getting back into this rhythm has been nice. I’m going to keep working on it, keep getting reps up.”
The Buckeyes chart every practice shooting drill, and Young has been among the team’s most consistent marksmen dating back more than a year. During 2020 preseason workouts, Holtmann said that, while it takes a second for him to get his shot off, Young was connecting at a clip similar to Justin Ahrens and Duane Washington Jr.
As the Buckeyes pulled away during the second half against Towson, Young was 4 for 4 from the floor and hit his only 3-point attempt while scoring 13 of his team-high 18 points. He has now scored 34 points in his last two games, tied for the most he’s ever put up in consecutive games during his Ohio State career.
The desire to grow his offensive game came after getting to showcase it right before his 2020-21 season concluded. Young had a career-high 18 points in just the first half of a Big Ten Tournament game against Purdue before having to leave with the concussion that would prematurely end his year.
“That made me want to work on those things that much more,” Young said. “It helps when you have teammates and coaches that put confidence in you and want you to shoot the ball and make plays.”
Against Towson, it came in handy. After scoring only 33 first-half points, the Buckeyes put up 52 during the second half as Young and Ahrens both had 13. Young also drew four fouls during the half. Just as importantly, he took a few tough shots on physical plays around the rim and popped back up no worse for the wear. Young said he’s pretty close to 100% healthy after a variety of injuries have limited him during his career.
“Every time he’s out, we miss him,” Holtmann said. “We had a pretty big game last year (Oral Roberts) where we missed him. He’s a really good player. He provides a lot for us.”
And, increasingly, from the perimeter. email@example.com @Adamjardy