March 7, 2010
By Marc Daniels
Follow the Knights in the C-USA Championship Blog, Live from Tulsa
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - With his Hollywood looks, Taylor Young strolls through an airport with a few travelers wondering if he is someone famous. A.J. Rompza usually takes care of that by telling most that there is another famous player on the Knights. For Young, the spotlight is something he does not seek and he would tell you it shouldn't be shining on him. But then again, Young has been modest his entire time at UCF because he has been the ultimate team player.
However, TY's play of late is worthy of some light shining on him. Since moving into the starting lineup 10 games ago he's averaging about 10.0 points a game. He is 9-of-16 from the 3-point line and 18-of-27 from the field over the last three games. But Young has not just shot well, he has made big plays in big moments for the Knights.
In the memorable game at Marshall, Young played a career best 41 minutes, but he buried big shot after big shot. He scored 23 points and hit 4-of-5 three pointers. He also was one of the six Knights who fouled out.
Against Rice, he led the Knights with 14 points. He dropped two key 3-pointers in the first half, but saved his biggest triple for the second half. With UCF down 57-55, Young got the ball with the shot clock winding down and drilled a long three to give the Knights a 58-57 lead with 3:23 to play.
"I've just been able to shoot the ball well because my teammates are getting me good looks," Young said. "Coach told me to take the shot when it's there and I'm playing with confidence right now."
That confidence has provided UCF with another scoring option. "Taylor has done a very good job in knocking down big shots, and he has played very well at the point when we have needed him," said Kirk Speraw
Not bad for the local product from The First Academy who just wanted a chance to play college ball. But Young's journey is one highlighted with patience and determination. He redshirted during the 2006-07 season. He played limited minutes the following season, but kept working and working for the chance to play.
That chance came last season when Young started 27 games. He averaged 3.3 points a game but had one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in C-USA.
Despite his role as a starter last season, Young was asked and accepted his role coming off the bench this year. As freshman Marcus Jordan emerged and became a starter, the assumption was fewer minutes and opportunities for Young. Not the case at all.
When Speraw looked for more perimeter defense and some leadership on the floor, Young was inserted back into the starting lineup and he has produced.
"He can guard on defense and he has been making plays on the other end for us," said Speraw.
As the Knights head to Tulsa for the conference tournament starting Wednesday, Young is one of the few Knights with experience in this event.
"It's all about battling adversity. Everyone is knows it's do or die in the tournament. Whoever handles the pressure best gets to advance," said Young.
Handling pressure is something Young has done well during his time at UCF. He won't make high flying dunks or behind the back passes, but Taylor Young has done much for the Knights during his time at UCF and has likely exceeded expectations from when he arrived on campus.
A couple of weeks ago, Young started growing a beard. It coincides with his hot play of late. Now Young, in the tradition of hockey players not shaving during the playoffs, has no choice but to leave the razor behind. His teammates believe "it's the beard."
His future still may be a role on MTV's "The Hills" because of his Hollywood looks, but for now Young has become a key part of UCF's team, and his next act will be Wednesday night when the Knights play SMU in the opening round of the tournament in Tulsa.
Marc Daniels' From the Press Box runs several times per month on UCFAthletics.com. Listen to Marc during UCF football, men's basketball and baseball radio broadcasts on the UCF-ISP Sports Network. Each weekday, Marc hosts "The Beat of Sports" on ESPN 1080 in Orlando from 9-11 a.m.