Kyle Young ready to end Ohio State career on own terms

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra

The odds say that Kyle Young’s Ohio State career would end with a loss. That’s the reality in a sport that crowns one national champion among its 357 participants.

That possibility, while not ideal, would be acceptable for Young with one caveat. When his Buckeyes career comes to an end, Young wants it to be on his terms. That’s why, after a second concussion in roughly three weeks prevented him from playing in Ohio State’s first-round upset loss to Oral Roberts in the NCAA Tournament, Young decided to take advantage of the free year of eligibility offered to all players by the NCAA and return for a fifth and final season with the Buckeyes.

More:From tragedy to glory, Ohio State's Kyle Young persevered on tough path

Nothing is guaranteed, but it gives him one more chance to enjoy the ending he  desires.

Ohio State forward Kyle Young shoots against Michigan forward Austin Davis on Feb. 21.

“The way everything ended, not being able to play just wasn’t sitting right with me,” Young said Friday in his first public comments since the season ended. “But also my thought process was, ‘Did I want this to be my last year in an Ohio State uniform? In my heart, I love this place and I want to do another year.”

It was an inadvertent elbow from Purdue’s Trevion Williams that sent Young sprawling to the court at Lucas Oil Stadium during the Big Ten tournament. Although he was slow to get up at the time, Young said he felt fine and opted to stay in the game. It wasn’t until the next stoppage a moment later when he sat down that he started to feel the effects of what would prove to be a season-ending concussion.

He would miss Ohio State’s final two games in the conference tournament as well as the loss to Oral Roberts at Purdue’s Mackey Arena. On the long trip back to Columbus that night, which included a stop in Indianapolis to collect everything from the team hotel, Young said he started to consider his options for next year. He would have some conversations with agents, he said, but talks did not progress far enough to get a feel for where he could potentially be playing next season.

More:Kyle Young's absence felt strongly Ohio State in March Madness loss to Oral Roberts

By that point, Young said he was starting to feel more normal, but he would still take more time after the season before getting back to full health. The thought of ending his career entirely surfaced too, albeit briefly.

Ohio State forward Kyle Young rests during a game against Iowa on Feb. 28.

“It’s hard not to think about that because it could be dangerous,” he said of playing after suffering multiple concussions. “I was starting to feel like myself again. I tried to not let that be too much of a factor in my decision. Injuries can happen anytime, anywhere.”

The Ohio State frontcourt has added some help in the form of former Butler and Indiana big man Joey Brunk, a player who helped recruit Young to Butler out of high school and now stands 6 feet 11, weighs 255 pounds and is the biggest player on the roster.

More:Who's on the Buckeyes roster? Here is Ohio State men's basketball's scholarship chart

His presence will likely help defray some of the beating the 6-8, 225-pound Young has taken while frequently playing center in the Big Ten.

“I told coach I don’t mind guarding their team’s biggest player, but it can definitely wear down your body when you’re undersized,” Young said. “It’ll be nice to have another big body in there that’ll be able to battle with these other big dudes.”

The Buckeyes are awaiting a decision from E.J. Liddell, who after being named first-team all-Big Ten as a sophomore has put his name into the NBA draft process. A final decision from Liddell — and guard Duane Washington Jr. — isn’t likely until possibly June, but the return of the power forward would directly impact Young’s role.

With Young’s decision made, he has talked with Liddell about returning but said he hasn’t pressured him to make a decision either way.

“My words to them was pretty much I want them to do what’s best for them,” he said. “I’m going to be happy with whatever they choose to do. If they come back, it’ll be amazing.”

Until then, Young said he’ll continue to work on his own development, which will continue to include expanding his game to the three-point line, where he hit 13 threes after totaling only four during his first three years. He’s a semester or two from finishing a Master’s degree in sport management.

Most importantly to him, though, he’s back for one more chance to get it right.

“The chemistry we have with this team is special,” Young said. “I want to able to have a full year that feels more normal and compete in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament at the level I’d like to. It’s about having another year to be able to play in front of Buckeye Nation and all these fans and my family.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy