Jamie Dixon added a big piece to his 2013 recruiting class on Saturday when Pittsburgh native and current Jersey City (NJ) Hudson Catholic forward Mike Young announced that he will be a Panther.
"It feels great to make this decision," Young told Panther-Lair.com. "It feels like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I get to put all of my focus into my senior year. This is a very important day for me and my family."
Young played at Shady Side Academy near Pittsburgh as a freshman. Several schools and a great deal of maturing later, he has found himself in the basketball-rich state of New Jersey, and that move has helped him in the development of his game as well as exposure. Young now stands 6'8 and 225 pounds, and since leaving Pittsburgh, he has added significant strength and now possesses the ideal frame for a power forward. Young has also expanded his game to the perimeter, to the point where he is capable of stepping out and knocking down shots and handling the ball.
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Those skills attracted offers from Connecticut, Florida, Memphis, NC State, Miami (Fla.), St. John's, West Virginia, and Xavier, but the opportunity to return home and play for Dixon was too much to overcome for the other schools.
"It will be great. [Friends and family in Pittsburgh] never get to see me play now and now they will have the opportunity to all the time.
"To be the next homegrown star at Pitt would be an honor. It's like having my cake and eating it too, the best of both worlds. I get to be close to home playing for Pitt. I think DeJuan (Blair) did great things at Pitt and I am looking to do even better things."
Young has opened some eyes and drawn rave reviews over the last two summers with the New Jersey Playaz AAU program. The dramatic development led to a four-star ranking and a spot in the Rivals 150, and he should make a solid rise in the next revised rankings.
A strong rebounder, Young should fit the power forward spot perfectly in Pitt's program. Redshirt junior Talib Zanna is the only true power forward on the roster this year, so the opportunity for immediate playing time exists for Young, and that was one of the crucial factors that also led him to Oakland.
"It is a blessing, to be from Pittsburgh and have a chance to play at Pitt. To have been the number one priority is a blessing and it shoes that my hard work is paying off. What I will bring to the program as a true freshman is high volume rebounding, toughness, versatility at either forward spot, and my leadership.
"The ultimate goal is a national championship. I will do whatever I can to make that happen. Whoever wants to win a national championship should join me. I am looking to help bring in whoever Coach Dixon thinks we need."
Young is Pitt's first commitment of the 2013 class. A decision from Jamel Artis has been expected sometime this weekend, but it remains to be seen how the Young commitment will affect that. The Panthers' staff will also be hosting Wesley Clark, a 2013 point guard from Michigan, next week.
The months of August and September are typically when Pitt makes a push for commitments in the early period, so stay tuned to Panther-Lair.com as the recruiting action starts to pick up.
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