Kentucky's James Young helped the Wildcats reach the NCAA title game last April. His size and scoring ability stood out in his lone year in Lexington, and his youth allows NBA executives to evaluate how much potential upside he'll have at the next level.
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James Young | 2014 NBA Draft Profile

by Mark Remme
Web Editor
@markremme

Kentucky | Freshman | Shooting Guard | 6-foot-6 | 215 lbs

2013-14: 32.4 MPG, 14.3 PPG, .407 FG%, .349 3FG%, 4.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.8 SPG

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Editor’s Note: Throughout June, Timberwolves.com will profile a series of prospects that could be available at Minnesota’s No. 13 pick, or if they choose to be mobile during the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26. Part V highlights Kentucky shooting guard James Young, who helped the Wildcats reach the national championship game before becoming one of the latest one-and-dones from Lexington.

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James Young has high expectations for himself and the type of basketball player he can be. How do we know? Just listening to who he emulates in his style tells the tale.

“Tracy McGrady, definitely,” Young said at the NBA Draft Combine last month. “He was a great player, and I try to model my game after him.”

If Young is able to one day provide the offensive firepower that T-Mac once did, one lucky team in this Draft will be very grateful they selected him.

Young views himself a 2-guard at the NBA level, and there was little wavering on that. He definitely has the size and length to help him get his shot off on the perimeter, and he’s also big enough where he can handle smaller defenders when they’re in post-up situations. The numbers tell the story. He put up double digits in 30 of his 40 games during his freshman season.

He’s also a player who hopes to make his impact with an up-tempo style of play.

“I’m used to the fast-paced [style], so whatever offense is fast-paced I feel like I could be good in transition,” Young said.

He’s working on improving his ball-handling this summer, and that’s something he said he didn’t get a chance to really work on in college. But as his teammate and fellow Draft prospect Julius Randle said, when players go to Kentucky they understand they’ll need to make sacrifices for the betterment of the team. Randle said for him it was not stepping outside the 3-point line. For Young, perhaps it was being able to fully work on his skill with the ball in his hand.

Either way, Kentucky is a perennial one-and-done factory, and there’s a reason why those two are following in those footsteps this year.

What Young in particular will need to showcase is whether or not he will be a sound enough defender at the NBA level to really make an impact. He says that’s something he’s trying to improve this offseason, too.

“A lot of people don’t see me as a defensive player,” Young said. “But when it’s time to get nitty-gritty, I definitely get in there and stop the first line.”

STRENGTHS

Young is the type of perimeter player that can use his size to get to the rim. He’s very solid at hitting perimeter shots when he gets his feet set, and he can also spot up in transition. He has a quick release, which is always a nice ability to have in the NBA. He’s also left-handed, so he has a little bit of uniqueness to his game in that regard. Young is still 18 years old, and with his size he already has a good base for growth as he continues to build muscle and develop as a basketball player. His shooting ability is solid, and while he isn’t as explosive as others in this draft he can still finish with some pretty impressive dunks. And knowing the caliber of player John Calipari brings in on an annual basis, you know Young—and any of his Wildcat teammates—have the capability of becoming something special in the NBA. Just looking at Calipari’s track record of one-and-done talents makes you wonder who will be next in line.

WEAKNESSES

Young is not an exceptional defender but said at the Draft Combine in Chicago that he’s been working on his footwork all summer. That will be a major point of emphasis for him, as he does have the size and length to make an impact on the perimeter. It’s all about how well he can shift and how interested he is in becoming a two-way player. He at times can play on his heels on the defensive end. He will also likely need to work on his shot selection and his ability to handle the ball. He can, at times, struggle off the dribble, but while he isn’t as explosive as other wings in the draft he can make up for it with his size and strength.

THEY SAID IT

“I feel like I’m in the top 5, yes sir, and I feel like I could do a lot of different things with the ball and off the ball.” — Kentucky guard James Young on if he is the top offensive punch from the wing in the 2014 Draft

WHAT HE CAN BRING TO THE WOLVES

Young has very good size for a wing, and when you pair his height/weight with his 6-foot-11 wingspan he’s got the length that NBA teams look for on the perimeter. He also has youth on his side—as an 18-year-old, he’s going to be one of the youngest players in the draft. That’s a big deal when it comes to upside and potential. He’s able to use his size to get to the paint, and he is good both in transition and from the perimeter.