After finishing his college career at Clemson earlier this year, former Deerfield star Andre Young is now getting a shot to play in the NBA. And why wouldn’t he? He starred in arguably the toughest conference in the country, finishing 12th in the ACC in scoring, 6th in assists, 2nd in steals, 3rd in 3-point percentage and 2nd in assist/turnover ratio. (File photo)
CLEMSON, S.C. — Andre Young will step onto a plane this morning headed for California, unsure of what awaits him when he steps off of it.
He is, however, sure of one thing: feeling grateful for the opportunity to continue playing the game he loves at the next level.
Young, the former Deerfield-Windsor and Clemson University star, has secured two NBA tryouts in advance of June 28’s NBA Draft. The lightning-quick, 5-foot-9 point guard will first show off his skills for the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, followed by a tryout with the Sacramento Kings on Friday.
“Oh, man, it’s a blessing,” Young said during a telephone interview with The Herald on Tuesday evening. “I feel really fortunate to have this opportunity, because a lot of guys out there who want it never get it. I’m just really looking forward to it and I hope to make the most of it.”
Those two auditions could just be the beginning.
Young’s agent, Adam Pensack, told The Herald late Monday night that Young has also garnered interest from his home-state Atlanta Hawks, as well as the Michael Jordan-owned Charlotte Bobcats.
“After what he did at Clemson, in a tough conference like the ACC, this kid has a bright future in basketball — hopefully the NBA,” said Pensack, who owns Pensack Sports Management Group and signed Young shortly after he ended his career with the Tigers earlier this year. “If the NBA doesn’t work out, he’s already got a lot of positive feedback about playing overseas. The bottom line is this: Andre Young will have a career and make money playing professional basketball. He’s just too good not too.”
Young’s stats back up that assertion.
Playing in arguably the toughest and most talented conference in the country, Young ended his senior season at Clemson ranked in the upper-echelon in more than one category, including 12th in scoring, sixth in assists, second in steals, third in 3-point percentage and second in assist/turnover ratio.
Young’s father, mentor and former assistant coach at DWS, Colie, said he has no doubt his son will impress NBA scouts and make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime chance standing in front of him.
“Andre has an awesome opportunity — one that only a handful of players get,” he said. “I always feel great about his opportunities because he always seems to seize them.”
On Tuesday night, Young — who has already graduated with his degree in heath science — was at his apartment on campus watching the NBA Finals’ Game 1 between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder as he prepared for his cross-country trek.
So who was his pick to win it all?
“I don’t really have a favorite,” he began, “but I guess if I have to pick, I’ll take the Heat.”
Soon, however, he hopes to be playing alongside the NBA’s best. And to get himself ready to do that, he said he’s been working tirelessly in the gym on Clemson’s campus and with a private coach in Atlanta.
“During the week, I’m working out here (at Clemson) with the coaches, and then on the weekend I go to Atlanta, where I see a professional trainer who has been helping me get ready (to make the transition from college to the NBA),” said Young, whose best college game of his career came this past season against Georgia Tech when he poured in 29 points, including going 7 of 9 from 3-point range. “I’m running, staying in good shape, and lifting a lot, just trying to get stronger.”
Young said his trainer in Atlanta has also helped him improve various aspects of his game.
“We’ve worked on a lot of things. I feel like, since college ended, I’m now doing a better job being smarter on the court, handling the ball and attacking the basket,” he said. “I’m working on my shot still, but I feel — going into the tryout — that’s already one of the strongest parts of my game. Mostly, I’m working on attacking the basket. I know I need that part of my game to be better (if I want to play in the NBA).”
Young said he’s both “excited and nervous” heading into his first NBA tryout because he isn’t sure what to expect.
“From my understanding, it will be myself and five or six other guys, and we’ll be running drills, playing some 3-on-3, things like that,” he said. “It’s all new territory for me, so I’ll just take it day-by-day and hope for the best.
“I normally don’t get nervous about basketball because I’ve been playing my whole life, but I’m nervous and excited all in one about this.”
Young, who lauded Pensack’s tenacity in marketing him to various NBA teams in order to get him a tryout, says he isn’t sure what he’d do if a team offers him a D-League contract while an offer to play overseas simultaneously sits on the table.
“It’s exciting to think about playing overseas, seeing another country because I’ve never been out of the U.S.,” he said. “We’ll just have to assess and compare whatever situations present themselves and go from there. Playing overseas could be cool, but, of course, the goal is to play in the NBA.”
Most importantly, Young added, is to approach each tryout with the same attitude — stay relaxed and just do what he does best: play ball.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I want to make sure I have fun but stay focused at the same time,” he said. “I just have to keeping reminding myself that all we’re doing is playing basketball.”