When it comes to the nation’s top student- athletes, one of the leading candidates for that honor in the class of 2006 is Mitchell High School standout star Thaddeus Young from Memphis (Tenn.).
While July is the month when summer basketball hits its pinnacle and most of the country’s top prospects are preparing to make or break their reputation, Young, 6-foot-8, 200-pounds, is pulling back from the hardwood and is preparing to hit the books.
“I’m headed to Taft Prep School (Conn.) to take some college courses, which means I won’t be playing much basketball,” Young said. “It’s possible that I could go to Nike or ABCD camp but right now I’m not sure.
“My academics are the most important thing to me. I love basketball but I’m preparing for life after it or in case something happens. I have to stay focused on the bigger picture, which is life.”
“I’m not worried about anything but school right now. I enjoy the attention I’m receiving but I have to remember to stay humble.”
Mitchell athletic director Henry Baskin doesn’t believe that keeping a level head will be a problem for the talented small forward.
“As great of a basketball player as he is, Thaddeus is a much better human being,” Baskin said. “I’ve been around him for a long time and he’s just a terrific kid and a student who has never given us any problems.
“You won’t find many basketball players of his caliber who will give up the summer to take college courses. He will be easily qualified, so he doesn’t even need them. He wants the extra hours so he is prepared.”
As might be expected, Young, who carries a 4.1 GPA and is currently ranked No. 7 by Rivals.com, is receiving attention from most of the nation’s elite college programs.
“I get a ton of mail each day with schools making sure I know the latest on their team and the college,” Young said. “Oklahoma, Indiana, Tennessee, Memphis, Texas, Kentucky, Georgia Tech, Alabama, LSU, Cincinnati and Illinois are a few of the schools I want to look at and learn more about.
“It’s a long time for me and I wouldn’t know where to begin when naming my top three or four schools, but I’m going to use the next two years to do some research and find out where I fit in best.
“I’m looking for a school that has a great education program and a good basketball history that will be competitive year in and year out.”
With nice size, a long wingspan and impressive athleticism, Young is a versatile player, but he still believes he has areas in which to improve.
“I think most people like my size and that I can handle the ball enough to bring it up the floor,” Young said. “I see the floor well and get to the basket.
“But I spend most of my time in high school at the post and my jumper isn’t as consistent as it could be. I’m working on it, shooting whenever possible and trying to get my form consistent.”
Last season Young averaged 22 points, 13 rebounds and five assists per contest.