With quiet perseverance, Kyle Young putting together strong senior season for Buckeyes
Outwardly, there really would be no way to know what Kyle Young has been going through.
Last Thursday, the senior forward on the Ohio State men’s basketball team battled reigning Big Ten player of the year Luka Garza and was one of three Buckeyes to finish with 16 points in a win at Iowa.
Four nights later, at Maryland, Young upped that performance with a career-high 18 points to lead No. 4 Ohio State past the Terrapins for the team’s fifth straight win.
That much was all televised. The three practices in between weren’t, which meant the fact that Young was able to participate in only one of them might come as a surprise to anyone outside the program, given his performance against the Terrapins.
After battling lower-leg injuries during each of the past two seasons, Young continues to do so while also putting together the most statistically impactful season of his career.
“He could not practice after going against Garza like he did,” OSU coach Chris Holtmann said Monday. “He needed two full days off because his legs were too sore, so he was only able to go one day before we played (Maryland).”
In games, the pain hasn’t slowed Young. His averages of 8.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 26.0 minutes per game are all career-high totals. After shooting 13.8% (4 for 29) from three-point range through his first three seasons, Young is 8 for 21 (38.1%) this season, including 7 for 14 (50.0%) in Big Ten play.
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His growth has come against the backdrop of an abnormal offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic and what is essentially a minutes restriction in practice to keep him as healthy as possible for the Buckeyes’ next game.
“One of a kind, man,” junior guard Duane Washington Jr. said of his teammate. “Kyle Young is the hardest-working dude, hardest-playing player I’ve ever played with. I always tell people if I had to go with one guy to go into a tussle with, I’m picking Kyle Young.
“And off the court, he’s the sweetest dude. He’s a kind, loving dude.”
His opponents might not share the same sentiment, at least on the court. Young’s ability to impact the game with his high-energy plays, often in the form of offensive rebounds, has consistently frustrated Big Ten coaches who have drawn up game plans to stop his teammates and instead watched as the Canton native makes his presence felt.
Monday night, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon spoke of planning to stop shooters Justin Ahrens and Washington as the Buckeyes eventually took control with their play in the post. Thirteen of Young’s 18 points came after halftime.
“(I’m) just trying to let the game come to me,” Young said. “When you’re out there playing hard and letting the game come to you, good things will happen.”
He is, however, starting to hear the clock ticking. Ohio State is scheduled to host Indiana on Saturday, one of its final six regular-season games on the schedule. A four-year career that was initially supposed to be played with Holtmann at Butler is approaching the finish line.
As long as Young’s body allows, he’ll be out there.
“I’ve been through a lot with these guys,” he said. “A bunch of different teams with different guys on it. As my time here is winding down you don’t want to take anything for granted and you want to play as hard as you can every time you step on the floor. I try to go into every game and give everything I’ve got regardless of how my body feels.”