UF MEN'S BASKETBALL
Young would like to go from defense to ministry
Published: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 8:18 p.m.
Florida senior center Patric Young would like to move on to a long, prosperous career in professional basketball.
But when that ends, Young has contemplated an interesting choice for life after the final buzzer of his final game sounds. He may become a minister.
“It would be cool,” Young said. “I don't know if I would go into seminary, or wherever I can just share my platform to minister people and share the Gospel. That would be really nice for me.”
Named the Southeastern Conference's defensive player of the year last week, the 6-foot-9, 240-pound Young has played with poise, passion and intelligence throughout his senior season. As one of four starting seniors, the Jacksonville native has been a big factor in Florida finishing the season No. 1 in the country and earning the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Through a four-year career of high and low points, Young has maintained his deep faith. It was passed down through his parents. Patric and his older sister, Sara, began going to the non-denominational Church of Christ at a young age. He began Bible study classes at the Cherry Street church in West Jacksonville when he was 12.
In the summer of 2012, Young and fellow teammate Will Yeguete were part of a Florida delegation from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes that traveled to Africa for an outreach mission. The delegation provided supplies and even basketball lessons to needy citizens of the Ivory Coast, a war-torn African nation with high poverty rates.
“He likes the outreach ministry,” Young's father, Robert Young, said. “He has a heart for kids. I could see him as a youth pastor easily. I could see him working with single groups because of how he gets along with his teammates. So it's up to him. The sky is the limit.”
The thought of the towering Young on the pulpit might bring visions of fire and brimstone, but he says his preaching style wouldn't be quite so heavy-handed.
“Hopefully I would be a little bit funny with some charisma, but need to turn it on when I can go serious and speak some hard truth,” Young said. “I can do it all at the same time.”
On the court, Young has done plenty to help spark UF's current 26-game winning streak, whether it's been diving for loose balls or coming up with timely buckets in the post. His bank shot with 1:51 remaining turned out to be the deciding basket in UF's 61-60 win over Kentucky in the SEC tournament title game.
But Young's greatest contribution for UF this season has come as the defensive anchor of a team that ranks third in the nation in scoring defense (57.9 points allowed per game). In the SEC tournament title game, Young and his teammates held freshman All-America candidate Julius Randle to just four points on 1-of-7 shooting from the floor.
Young is not a high volume shot blocker (1.0 blocks per game), but uses exceptional footwork and positioning to frustrate opposing players in the post.
“Patric is a disciplined, efficient mover,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “There's no waste of motion with him. He's really, really disciplined. He is, by far, the best guy I have ever been around in the frontcourt — and I'll put (Joakim) Noah and (Al) Horford up there too — he is, by far, the best guy defending the pick and roll.”
Donovan said Young is the catalyst behind three different pick-and-roll coverages the Gators call out during the course of games.
“He's loud,” Donovan said. “He's vocal. He gives the guards time to adjust their stance. He gets up there … he has a high level of communication and he really, really, really takes great pride in it. He takes great pride in defense.”
Young's on and off-court discipline, combined with his spirituality, brings to mind another legendary former UF athlete from Jacksonville. Young said he hasn't met Tim Tebow face-to-face, but the two have talked on the phone a few times.
“We both have the same faith and he's a great example and role model of someone I wouldn't mind modeling myself, someone that's really striving to honor God with his life,” Young said. “He definitely has an influence on me, and just be like him, as outspoken as him as well.”
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