Transition Game

by Jake Fischer / @JakeLFischer

On the court, former Arkansas Razorback and 2013 NBA Draft prospect BJ Young is deadly in transition. Considering Young spent most of his life on the move, his effectiveness in the open court makes a lot of sense.

During his early high school years, Young’s father, Floyd Bell, struggled to succeed in real estate. His mother, Charrallotte Young, worked in several stores at a local mall, she wasn’t bringing in a comfortable living, either. BJ and his family were forced to bounce from home to home.

“Money wasn’t coming in like it used to and my parents were looking for different jobs, trying to find a stable job,” Young recalls. “My mom works at a store in the mall, my dad is moving packages and stuff like that right now.”

With the family’s finances never in balance, Young says he moved several times a year early on in high school.

“I’ve moved a lot in my life and lived in a lot of different houses,” Young says. “My family always was together, but we were always on the move. I probably moved three or four times a year throughout high school.”

Young says he was very fortunate that, even through the adversity, his family was able to stay strong and stay together. But the constant transition was debilitating for his college prospects.

“After being in a lot of different school districts, I had to sit out 365 days before I could play at my high school,” Young said. “I didn’t start getting heavily recruited until late into high school because I wasn’t in a constant setting for colleges to find me.”

Once Young settled into McCluer North High School in Florissant, MO, just 20 miles outside of St. Louis, he was able to finally show what he could do on the court. While Young was able to impact the game in many areas, the guard always found a way to get buckets.

“That’s always been something that I’ve naturally been able to do,” Young says. “I’ve always been able to score the ball and play good on-the-ball defense. I’ve always had a knack for scoring and in a lot of different ways. When I got to be really athletic, I took it to another level.”

With his game at an all-time high, Young boosted his stats to something straight out of a video game. He averaged 30.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game while leading his team to a 6A State Championship in his senior season, ’10-11, and beating Bradley Beal and his Chaminade squad in the process.

His trophy shelf started getting crowded, too. Young was named North County Journal Male Athlete of the Year, team MVP and All-State. With his game earning Ws, the nation finally caught on. When it was all said and done, he was ranked 16th in the nation by ESPN, 22nd by and 25th by Rivals. Then, after considering offers from Marquette, Baylor, Illinois State, Illinois, Carbondale, Indiana, Connecticut, Virginia Tech, Young packed his bags for Arkansas and joined the Razorbacks.

“My mom was from Arkansas, and I thought they had a really great fan base,” Young says. “I didn’t originally commit to Mike Anderson and his coaching staff; John Pelphrey and his coaching staff recruited me and we were really close during that process. I just really liked the school and its facilities, and I wanted to go down and try to make it happen.”

It didn’t matter what coach was patrolling the sidelines, Young was able to score and put the ball in the hole at a very efficient rate in both of his years in the SEC. Over his two seasons and 63 games as a Razorback, Young averaged 15.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game while shooting 47.5 percent from the floor.

Where Young stood out the most, though, was in the open court, dazzling fans and scouts alike on the fast break. The electric scorer was fourth in the nation in ’12-13 in transition field-goal percentage at 70.3 percent while scoring 1.33 points per possession on the break. His production in transition accounted for 26.5 percent of his offense.

“I think I’m very effective because I can finish both above the rim and below the rim or I can make good passes on the fly to my teammates,” Young said. “I just make good decisions with the ball in my hands on the run.”

The NBA seems like a logical step for a speedster who likes to score in a fast-paced game. But he’s hoping a sturdy career can help him slow down his life off the court and finally create a constant home for his family.

“Recently my parents just moved to a different house,” Young said. “So I’m just trying to get us settled in to one house and keep doing the right things from there.”

On Draft night, Young certainly won’t be in the green room as a sure-fire lottery pick. He probably won’t even be selected in the first round. But his scoring punch and ability to play defense can definitely make an impact with a team in the L. It also will make an impact on his family back in St. Louis. A rookie contract will help BJ Young solidify his move to the next level, but it will also help his family stop moving, and just happily stay in one place.