Always growing, Kyle Young looking for big senior year at Ohio State
Kyle Young arrived at Ohio State with a whirl of emotions, a world of promise and one tattoo that was barely a week old.
Now as he enters his senior season – but possibly not his last – Young is aiming to show off a different side to his game and make a more pronounced impact for the Buckeyes. And even if the changes to his game prove to be more subtle than sweeping, there is no mistaking Young for the fresh-faced freshman who arrived during the summer of 2017.
The ink alone would accomplish that. Since Young came to Columbus with “YoungStrong” tattooed in cursive on his left biceps — a tattoo his family members all got in tribute to his late father, Mark — he has added multiple designs to his back as well as his latest addition: a sleeve of designs running down his left arm from clavicle to wrist.
“Tattoos are something that I feel like help express not only things you’ve been through but things you stand by,” Young told The Dispatch. “I wouldn’t get any tattoos that don’t have any meaning to me. Everything I’ve added so far has a specific meaning.”
There are plans for more, but not during the season. The season is for putting his best foot forward and taking on the most pronounced role of his Ohio State career on a team grappling with the notion of playing without Kaleb Wesson as a focal point for the first time in three years.
That includes trying to add a three-point shot to his bag of tricks. Young shot a high percentage while starring at Massillon Jackson but has attempted only 29 three-pointers in his three years with the Buckeyes, making four of them for a 13.8% career mark.
“I’m feeling really comfortable with how I’m shooting it,” he said. “I’ve been able to show consistently in live play that I’ve been able to make not only one but a few at a time. That’s a step I want to take, just to show people how my game has expanded and how much more I could continue to grow.”
Coach Chris Holtmann has had a unique viewpoint on Young’s growth. He began recruiting him while at Butler and signed him to play for the Bulldogs, but when Holtmann replaced Thad Matta at Ohio State it led to Young following the coaching staff that had won him over to the school that initially had been his second choice.
Their shared experiences have helped build a special bond between coach and player.
“He’s a beautiful kid from a beautiful family,” Holtmann said. “He just really is. We felt that in recruiting him and we felt that every year he’s been here. I think he just is a tremendous kid.”
His time at Ohio State has been marked by steady improvement. He has averaged 5.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 17.6 minutes per game through three seasons and improved in each of those categories each season. Along the way, he has played through nagging injuries, been lauded as a “glue guy” and emerged as a fan favorite for his hard-nosed style of play, attributes that were particularly noticeable during two games last season.
While playing with what he didn’t know at the time was a case of appendicitis, he pulled down 11 rebounds against a physical West Virginia team before undergoing an appendectomy within the next 24 hours. Then at Michigan, Young had his jersey ripped by Xavier Simpson during the final minute and was awarded two critical free throws that helped the Buckeyes to a 61-58 win.
Both are part of the chest of memories Young said he’ll take when him when his time is done at Ohio State.
“Being an Ohio State player has been amazing,” he said. “I don’t take that for granted. I’m very grateful for everything I’ve been through here. Just ready to attack this last year.”
The possibility remains that this won’t be the end of the road for Young. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA has given all winter sport athletes an extra year of eligibility, meaning he could return and play for a fifth year if he chooses.
It’s an option Young said he is considering and will look at more closely whenever Ohio State gets through whatever this season will ultimately look like. For now, the focus is on what is immediately ahead, and that includes Wednesday’s season opener against Illinois State.
“I guess it all depends on how I’m feeling throughout this year, how this year goes, the opportunities I have afterwards and depending on if I’m ready to come back for another season,” he said. “That’ll be something to think about later on.”