John Denton's Knights Insider: Young Proud of Accomplishments at UCF

March 2, 2011

="" alt="Knight Head" border="0" class="imported"> Read John Denton's Knights Insider | ="" alt="Twitter Logo" border="0" class="imported">Follow us on Twitter | ="" alt="Facebook Logo" border="0" class="imported">Get social with the Knights on Facebook

By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Having long since proven that he can play at the Division I collegiate level, UCF senior guard Taylor Young laughs now at the sizeable chip he sported on his shoulder five years ago as an incoming freshman.

Young entered UCF in 2006 after being told he'd never be able to make it as an undersized shooting guard with a small-school prep background. But tonight - Senior Night at UCF Arena against SMU - Young will leave as a vital cog on one of the Knights' best teams in years.

``I've had incredible support the whole time from my family and friends. And I do think I proved some people wrong, and that was the goal coming into college. But that seems silly now,'' Young said. ``I'm just proud that I had this opportunity and I took advantage of it in a way that not many thought was possible.''

Young, A.J. Tyler and Tom Herzog will be honored Wednesday night when the Knights (18-9 overall and 5-9 in Conference USA play) host SMU (17-11 and 8-6) at 7 p.m. The Knights have bounced back tremendously from a midseason lull, winning four of five games down the stretch to stay in contention for a postseason berth. In a week's span last week, UCF knocked UTEP and Southern Miss out of first place and have continued to play with a purpose.

``Getting in the tournament is something that drives us and motivates us, but it's about just focusing on that game and that practice that day. We can't get too far ahead of ourselves,'' Young said. ``(The UTEP and Southern Miss wins) continue to show that we can play with anybody when we play like we're capable of playing. We've said that since Day 1, and that's the biggest message that we sent of late.''

A shoulder injury suffered trying to run through a screen has curtailed Young's minutes on the court of late, but it hasn't slowed down his leadership role for the Knights. Head coach Donnie Jones has raved about Young's ability to think his way through the game of basketball and in him he sees a potential head coach someday in the future.

``Taylor's been terrific. He has as good of an attitude of anybody that I've ever coached,'' Jones said. ``He's enthusiastic, he cheers on the guys, he works hard and he's just a great teammate. He's been very impactful to our team. ... I think he'd be terrific as a coach someday because he has a good work ethic and feel for the game. He seems like a coach's son with the way that he plays and overachieves. He gets the whole concept of making others better.''

Young said it's shocking to think that his playing days at UCF are almost at an end. He redshirted his first season on campus, appeared in 24 games as a freshman, 31 games as a sophomore and all 32 games as a junior as a combo guard for the Knights. He filled in nicely midway through this season when the Knights struggled with injuries to Marcus Jordan and A.J. Rompza and since his injury he's been offering moral support as one of the first people off the bench during timeouts.

``About a week ago, A.J. Tyler and I talked about how Senior Night was coming up. We still have the conference tournament next week, but there's nothing like playing at home,'' Young said. ``I'm sure that it will be an emotional night because of the opportunity that I've had here. I've been so blessed to have such a great university and a great support from the fans.''

As for possibly coaching someday, Young admitted that the thought is intriguing because he loves the game of basketball so dearly. He is eager to return to his high school, The First Academy in Orlando, and help players dream that they can defy the odds similar to he did with a solid career at UCF.

``I'm never going to get away from the game. When I'm done here I'll help out whatever hours I can around my high school and come out to UCF to be around the guys when I can,'' he said. ``I'll always be around the game somehow because I have too much passion for it to be away from it completely. Coaching may be something that I do a couple of years down the road.''

John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.