Kings sign Young in huge boost for league

The NBL has taken Australia’s basketball fans by storm this season after just six rounds, providing a new style of game play and an exciting crop of new and talented imports.

The hype at the beginning of the season began once Basketball Australia demerged with the NBL along with the addition of 2013 NBA draftee James Ennis suiting up for the Perth Wildcats. Ennis has since taken off around the country, producing night in, night out as the ‘Cats find themselves sitting 8-0 on top of the ladder.

It seems as if the NBL is coming alive again thanks to what Ennis, among others (such as A.J. Ogilvy, Chris Goulding and Rotnei Clarke) have brought to the new game play and fans are loving every minute of it.

The fresh appeal of the NBL has agents all over the world interested in what the game has to offer, while more and more incentives are on display for players to show their trade down under in order to boost their careers.

Photo Courtesy ~ Joe Glorioso / @JoeGlo1 /

Enter, Sam Young.

Who Is Sam Young?

Young, 28, was the 36th pick in the 2009 NBA draft selected by the Memphis Grizzlies. A four year NBA player, Young has played for the Grizzlies, Philadelphia 76ers and the Indiana Pacers playing alongside the likes of Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert and Paul George.

A small forward/shooting guard, Young is well known for his defensive prowess, shutting down pure scorers and star players such as Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. He finds ways to position players out of their rhythm which leads to tipped passes and blocked shots, something that can easily be used in the NBL.

A product out of Pittsburgh University, Young was seen as more of a scorer compared to his NBA career, providing perimeter scoring in his latter years while also finding ways to get to the rim.

His college career was boosted in his final two years, averaging 18ppg and 19.2ppg respectively. His 2009 NCAA Tournament was what put his name up in lights as he averaged 23.5 points in four games before being beaten to end his school’s chance at championship glory.

Why is Young such a huge scalp?

A strong, witty and hard working player, Young developed a reputation very early in his career to be someone who wouldn’t give up and an individual who has always strived to be greater.

This is exemplified by his amazing training regime during his college days, when he slept in the locker room inside the Pittsburgh gym so that he could train whenever he wanted.

In the words of Allen Iverson, “We’re talkin’ bout practice!”

Some may say he’s crazy, many will say the man is dedicated and that’s exactly what the Sydney Kings could use: dedication.

Many imports in the past few years have used Australia and the NBL as more of a holiday visit rather than a chance to prove themselves to future employers. Somehow, I see Young’s stay to be somewhat of a different story.

Where Young fits in

As the Sydney Kings lose a point guard in Jesse Sanders who makes way for the incoming Young, more emphasis is placed in the hands of Charles Carmouche who now must play a bigger role as their sole PG.

While head coach Shane Heal believes this is something Carmouche can step up to, it remains to be seen, despite his sudden jump in recent form.

Young will most likely take the starting small forward spot, meaning Ben Madgen and Carmouche will shuffle down to the 2- and 1-guard positions respectively, and will need to show the Kings a bit of what he provided in both the NBA and college.

He will provide much of his defensive efforts which will cause havoc to the likes of James Ennis, Chris Goulding and Thomas Abercrombie, while looking to have an impact on the offensive end by bringing back more of his college output.

Heal mentioned in his press conference after the Kings’ win against Townsville last Friday night:

“We gain a man in the three spot where we lack. So for us to be able to put ourselves in a position to try and win a championship, we’ve got to put ourselves in a position to be able to play against guys like Ennis and Goulding.”

While Young will be looking to issue another gold star on his resume --not only individual performances, but an NBL Championship to his name-- the Kings organisation believe that they can also improve the swingman.

“We hope we can improve his shot, he was a good scorer in college and we feel like he’ll have aspects of that.” - Shane Heal

How Young improves the league

In what is another huge acquisition for the NBL, the league improves its caliber of players, adding to what has already been a great season of imports and Aussies returning home.

It should be noted that Young possesses an NBA opt-out clause in his contract, that being, if an NBA team wish to sign him, he can choose to leave immediately.

This creates an incentive for possible NBA/overseas players to venture Down Under in order to improve their chances of finding a gig elsewhere. The NBL has a strong reputation in many countries and with the crop of players only improving; this creates a greater chance of bigger names heading to our shores in the near future.

Young is obviously the most recent example of this, as his agent Joel Bell announced this past week in the U.S. that “Sam had other options, but this one made the most sense and will pay him as the highest player in the league.” Although this probably wasn’t the best way of releasing the big news, the fact still remains, players still factor in playing in Australia.

NBL Chief Executive Frasier Neill is, and should be, excited about the latest recruit. Neill has even publically announced that the NBL is looking at the way the A-League has scooped football stars such as Alessandro Del Piero, Shinji Ono and Emile Heskey.

This clearly marks exciting times for all Australian basketball fans. Regardless of whether they are current NBL supporter or not, the Sydney Kings have made the first move in which teams are looking at breaking down opposition’s strengths, the obvious one being the Kings target league leader Perth and their superstar in Ennis.

Young’s first game is expected to be this weekend against the Perth Wildcats, in what should be built up as one of the games of the season.

I know I can’t wait for this weekend to see Sam Young’s immediate impact on the competition, and who better to #bringit to than the only undefeated team left in the league?