Patrick Kinahan: Eschewing NBA, Young professes instant love for BYU

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PROVO — Most young assistant coaches in the NBA presumably have their eyes on the grand prize, to slide over a few feet on the bench.

Kevin Young seemed to fit that exact profile, toiling in earnest to land one of the 30 coveted head coaching jobs in the NBA. The 42-year-old was right there in the mix, having multiple interviews for the opportunity to lead his own team.

At the rate he was going, it was only a matter of time. But then SMU decided to fire its basketball coach.

Come again?

Follow the trail of coaching dominoes: Andy Enfield left USC for SMU, followed by Eric Musselman going from Arkansas to USC and getting replaced by Kentucky's John Calipari. After multiple coaches turned down the Kentucky job, the Wildcats turned to BYU's Mark Pope.

The unlikely series of events left BYU administrators Tom Holmoe and Brian Santiago searching for new coach. They immediately went all in on Young, the associate head coach for the Phoenix Suns.

A few days later, attributed in part to a meeting to Phoenix that included university president Shane Reese, BYU got its man. For a school with a severely limited pool of candidates due to the unofficial expectation that the coach be a faithful Latter-day Saint, Young was a slam dunk choice.

But what about that fast track to become the next Jerry Sloan? With the rumors running rampant that Phoenix will fire Frank Vogel, Young could have been the man in the desert.

Nobody cares now. Turns out, the reported highest-paid NBA assistant coach doesn't have a burning desire to lead a group of professionals.

"As it relates to the NBA and the dream and so forth, truth be told (it's) never actually been my dream to be a head coach in the NBA," Young said during his introductory press conference.

The father of three young children, Young repeatedly cited BYU's family atmosphere as a significant attraction in choosing to succeed Pope. His family, including parents and five siblings, attended the press conference.

In calling his wife the rock of their marriage, Young noted that the coaching professional is hard on families. That won't change with the new job, as the workload in college is just as grueling.

"The thing that really moved the needle for me and my wife was the environment that we're going to be doing it here at BYU," Young said.

Combining both jobs until the Suns were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round, he has made a smashing first impression at BYU. With coaches forced to re-recruit their players after every season, Young immediately won two battles in retaining juniors-to-be Dallin Hall and Richie Saunders.

BYU desperately needed both players to stay, given leading scorer Jaxson Robinson's decision to enter the transfer portal while exploring NBA possibilities. Highly touted incoming recruit Collin Chandler reneged on his BYU commitment and will join Pope in Kentucky.

Young also scored a recruiting coup with the commitment of Utah high school star Brody Kozlowski. The son of a former BYU women's basketball player and current broadcaster, Kozlowski originally signed with Enfield at USC.

The prevailing knock against Pope was not having a great relationship with some of the best in-state high school players and their coaches. Kozlowski's flip appeared to play into that theory, even if it was triggered by USC's coaching change.

"This was a kid who had a chance to go to BYU the first time, but he didn't like the situation," former BYU assistant coach Tim LaComb said during his weekly appearance on The Zone. "He wanted to go to BYU, but it was not his cup of tea at that current time. He is a very straight forward (person); doesn't like smoke blown. He just wants to hear authenticity, and I think that's what he found the second time around."

So far, Young appears to be on the right track.

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Patrick is a radio host for 97.5/1280 The Zone and the Zone Sports Network. He, along with David James, are on the air Monday-Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.


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