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Player preview: Ohio State super senior forward Kyle Young

The Buckeyes are getting Kyle Young back for free, can they utilize him as they chase a championship?

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

As the month of July comes to a close, we are also coming to a close on our Land-Grant Holy Land player preview series. Last week we looked at Justice Sueing and what he can provide for the Buckeyes during his senior season. This week, Buckeye fan favorite Kyle Young is on tap. Let’s take a look at the super senior and what he is bringing to Columbus during his final season.

WHAT HE HAS DONE: Over the past four years, Kyle Young has cemented himself as a Buckeye fan favorite. Similar to Jae’Sean Tate, Young has been the do-it-all guy for the Buckeyes in his time in Columbus. Even undersized, Young plays larger than he is and plays any role that is needed of him, constantly going up against top big men in a loaded conference.

Young was originally committed to Butler as the No. 2 player in the state of Ohio, behind Ohio State commit Kaleb Wesson. He was the No. 80 overall recruit out of Massillon’s Jackson High School. Once Chris Holtmann made the jump from Butler to Ohio State, Young decided to go with him, sending the top two recruits from Ohio in the 2017 class to the Buckeyes.

Young played in 25 games as a freshman off of the bench. He only averaged 1.8 points and 1.6 rebounds per game, but was a spark on the defensive end of the floor. His sophomore season, Young played in 31 games, starting in 14 of them. He started to show more of an emphasis on scoring, averaging 6.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game during his second season.

As he continued into his junior and senior seasons, Young progressively got better each year, averaging 7.5 points and 5.8 rebounds during his junior season and 8.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in the abbreviated 2020 season.

One thing that has stood out throughout his time with the Buckeyes is Young’s shooting progression from his junior to senior season. Young shot 15% from three-point range and 65% from the free throw line in his junior season, however, as a senior, he shot 43% from deep and 84% from the free throw line, and both came on more attempts. His shooting improvement adds a significant dimension to his game that was unexpected and nonexistent for his first three seasons.

In the Big Ten Tournament, Young was hit with an errant elbow from Purdue’s Trevion Williams and was diagnosed with a concussion and would miss the rest of the season. He was sorely missed in the NCAA Tournament during the Buckeyes’ first round matchup against Oral Roberts where Kevin Obanor scored 30 points and 11 rebounds. Surely, with Young in the game, life would have been tougher for Obanor down low.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all collegiate athletes were granted a free year of eligibility if they chose to use it; Young did and will return to Ohio State for one final go at it.

WHAT’S NEXT: Young will come into his final season with his role defined and his name known. The interesting part about Young will be how much he is able to improve upon his scoring heading into this season and if he can be a double-digit a game scorer.

That has never been a role that they needed Young to be, and they likely do not need him to do that this year either, but with his huge improvement in shooting last season, he can be a weapon that the Buckeyes did not even realize they had if it continues.

PROJECTED ROLE: Young’s unexpected end to last season and the Buckeyes’ subsequent loss to Oral Roberts in the NCAA Tournament no doubt played a role in Young deciding to utilize his free COVID year of eligibility to return to the Buckeyes.

This was a huge development, with Young being a senior and E.J. Liddell entering the NBA draft, a lot of people were uncertain about the big men for Holtmann and his staff. Now, with both returning and the addition of Indiana transfer Joey Brunk, the Buckeyes have experienced and seasoned big men to anchor the team this season in the paint along with sophomore Zed Key.

Young will no doubt be a staple in the Buckeye’s rotation, but on Tuesday, Holtmann said that with the added depth in the front court — and Young’s injury history — the veteran will be on a bit of a load management plan.

Despite that, I’d imagine that Young would be the starter at the five with Liddell at the four, unless Chris Holtmann decides to go with Zed Key or Joey Brunk as the starter and bring Young off the bench as the sixth man.

Young is exceptional at playing solid defense without getting into much foul trouble, so his availability in that regard tends to be ideal in the rough and tumble Big Ten. Young also brings experience and maturity that you cannot replace easily. That is an invaluable part of his game that will help the young guys and the transfers acclimate easier to the Buckeye hoops culture.

Next up in the LGHL player preview series: Cedric Russell