Patric Young Learning From Past, Looking Toward Future
Colorado Springs, Colo. • June 18, 2011
Patric Young’s future has always been bright. At Providence High School, in Jacksonville, Fla., the forward/center led his team to the 2010 Class 2A state title with a 31-1 record. He earned All-America honors in 2010 from McDonald’s, Parade Magazine and Slam Magazine, and was recognized as a five-star recruit by Rivals and Scout. Overall, Young, who has been compared by scouts to Dwight Howard, his all-time favorite player, was one of the most touted prospects coming out of high school in 2010, ranked by ESPN as the No. 13 recruit of his class.
With the honors and accolades, Young was given a full-ride scholarship to the University of Florida. The hype surrounding Young went with him to Gainesville.
“There was definitely a dark period,” Young said. “It was definitely a distraction. I was buying into how good people kept telling me I was and could be, and let them influence the type of player I should be and my expectations for myself. I definitely let it all get to my head, and it wasn’t helping me.”
Standing at 6-9, 245 pounds with a strong build and a chiseled frame, Young, has always been among the biggest and strongest of those on the court. It wasn’t until his arrival in Gainesville, though, that he learned to manage his strength, and for that, he owes to head coach Billy Donovan.
“I’ve been told by everyone for years how good my size is, how good my skills are, how good I can become,” Young said. “It took me awhile to get past that, and that’s when the coaches sat me down and made me realize that I needed to adjust my mindset and attitude.”
Donovan said it was nothing more than him trying to make Young a better player.
“The excitement and buildup of Pat was all around him,” Donovan said, “and I just thought it was key for him to realize that even though the expectations are higher on him, he cannot let that affect what he’s got to do to help the team win. I think sometimes, as a player, when you try and meet all the expectations of how good or how dominant you’re supposed to be, and you don’t, you can feel like you’re disappointing people.”
For Young, though, it was advice that would change how he lived his life, both on and off the court.
“Because of Coach Donovan, I just don’t listen to the other things anymore,” Young said. “I feel like I have a lot of potential, but there’s a lot of room left to grow. I think I’m alright and I could be a good player, but when I do something that no one has ever done before, that’s when I’ll consider myself a great player.”
Donovan labeled his player as unselfish, having a big heart and “an all-around really good kid”. But for Young, Donovan is one of his greatest mentors.
“He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met, definitely the best coach I’ve ever had in my life,” Young said. “He’s helped me grow on the court and learn the game in a whole new way. I really wouldn’t be anything without him. After just one year with him at Florida, I thought to myself, ‘What have I been doing my whole life?’ It’s amazing how much he taught me in one year. He just wants the best for me.”
The thing that Young prides himself on more than any accomplishment on the court, though, is his character. For that, he credits to Donovan, as well.
“His influence has been unbelievable,” Young said. “He’s a Christian as well, and has helped me grow spiritually. He’s a mentor and a role model to me. He’s taught me to be a motivator and a leader, and has been a big influence for some of my main life principles.
“I try to be positive, I try to encourage guys. I don’t curse at all. I try to be a motivator and a leader. I try to treat everyone how they deserve to be treated, which is with respect. I try to be an overall nice guy. I feel like I still have some room to grow with meeting these characteristics, but that’s who I am.”
Donovan again downplayed his influence, praising Young’s parents, Bennita and Robert, calling them “wonderful people and great support to Pat.”
As a kid, Young looked up to his dad, and says that he gets his kindness and goofiness from him.
“You want to do whatever your dad does,” Young said. “I’m like a big kid. I still watch cartoons and joke around a lot, which reminds me of my dad. I’m not as nice as my dad, because he smiles a lot more than me and is a lot goofier than me, but I see myself in him. Also, my Christian faith has helped me be this way. I’m instilled in that. I stick to the Word to help me grow a lot to become a better person.”
After a freshman season at Florida that ended with a trip to the Elite Eight, Young, who was considered by many as a high pick in this summer’s NBA Draft, elected to stay at Florida for another season with the Gators.
His first step, though, is to make the 2011 USA U19 World Championship Team, which will be announced Sunday morning. If selected, Young will aim for his second gold medal after winning the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in San Antonio, Texas last June.
“It’s great to have an opportunity to represent your country,” Young said of his time with USA Basketball last year. “There are a lot of Division I athletes that would like to have that opportunity, but not too many people get to compete for their country and have the chance to win a gold medal. To me, that I’m able to do this, I can’t even put it into words. And then that we won gold, I was really excited about that. It was one of my favorite basketball memories because that was a close championship game against Brazil. I knocked down some clutch free throws in the last minutes of the game.”
Back in Gainesville, Young and Donovan will look to improve on their run to the Elite Eight with a much smaller lineup, but with one of the best backcourts in the nation, according to Young.
“We’re going to be smaller,” Young said. “It’s just me and three other bigs. We’ll be a lot quicker because we have a lot of guards, though. We may have one of the best backcourts in the country, so we’ll be pressuring a lot and running the floor a lot.
After a long career in the NBA, Young hopes to retire from the game he loves, and focus on helping others, something else that’s important to him.
“It’s a big dream, but I want to help put an end to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan,” he said.”Everyone deserves to have a good life and have an opportunity to educate themselves. I feel like there are a lot of things that aren’t fair outside of the United States. We’re so blessed and fortunate here. I just feel like if I’m fortunate to have a good career and have all this money, I’m not going to spend it all on myself. I feel like I can be an influence to help others get somewhere with their lives and just prosper.”