Ohio State men's basketball: Kyle Young healthy again, ready to show more skills

Adam Jardy
Kyle Young shot 71.7 percent from the field in Big Ten games last year, but he clearly was limited by a lower leg injury. The junior power forward said he is now completely healthy. [Tyler Schank/Dispatch]

Anyone who watched the Ohio State men’s basketball team last season could see a few things about Kyle Young weren’t quite right.

It was clear that the stress fracture in his lower right leg was holding him back, even as the sophomore continued to gut out as many minutes as possible.

What they didn’t see is what the power forward is hoping to display this season: a dangerous offensive presence capable of impacting the game on several fronts. Now recovered from the injury and looking forward to a summer of expanding his game, Young said Wednesday in Value City Arena that he’s in the process of doing exactly that.

“I definitely want to improve my outside game, being able to shoot when I’m comfortable,” Young said. “Throughout high school I was always shooting, so I want to get back to that. …

“That just comes with being consistent and working on my shot all the time. That’s something that in the month of May when I had time off was one of the things I could do, so I was in there all the time working on it.”

Young also said he’s aiming to improve his short-post game and add aspects like turnaround jumpers to his repertoire as he enters the back half of his collegiate career.

Although he played in all but four of Ohio State’s games and was a fixture in the starting lineup before his injury, Young’s offensive contributions primarily came from creating something out of nothing: tip-ins, dunks and the occasional lob for a dunk.

He attempted only six three-pointers all season, shot 70.0 percent from inside the three-point line (11th best in the nation) and was a league-leading 71.7 percent in Big Ten play but only took 13.3 percent of the team’s shots while on the court.

That’s partly why, although he played the sixth-most minutes among the Buckeyes while battling the injury, his statistical contributions classified him as a “limited contributor” in the advanced analytic breakdowns on because he was used on fewer than 16 percent of the team’s offensive possessions.

But when he was on the court at power forward with Andre Wesson at small forward and Kaleb Wesson at center, the trio helped power the lineup with the best cumulative plus-minus rating of the season for the Buckeyes.

“There was a few times I felt like my bounce wasn’t there,” he said. “Even when I would try to get up, it wasn’t 100 percent. That held me back a little bit but that’s about it.”

Speaking at the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s luncheon series in Canton in May, Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was asked about Young, who attended nearby Jackson High School, and his shooting ability.

“He’s got an ability to affect the game in a lot of different ways,” Holtmann said. “He’s got to continue to work at it. As much as shooting, his overall offensive game has to continue to grow and get better.”

It has taken some time to get to where he can do that.

As he played through the injury — even admitting that he probably rushed his comeback a little — Young was limited in practice and played more than 25 minutes in only three of OSU’s final 14 games.

The only healer would be rest, and that came immediately after the Buckeyes bowed out of the NCAA Tournament with a second-round loss to Houston.

It was about a month later that Young started to increase the workouts to the point where he’s now 100 percent healed.

“I took some time off during May, went through rehab probably that whole month and worked on basic skill stuff, fundamental stuff while my body was healing,” he said. “I took that time to really recover and I’m back to fully recovered now. I think my body really needed it, just to lighten up on the legs and stuff like that. It was good, just taking it slow and getting everything back to 100 percent.”


Listen to the BuckeyeXtra Basketball podcast: