Joe Young Discusses Trip to China, Summer Workouts

Pacers guard Joe Young flew back from China on Monday after participating in clinics and a fundraising game as part of the Nike-sponsored Yao Ming Foundation, established by the former NBA start and Naismith Hall of Fame selection.

Young, one of eight NBA players on the trip, played in a game in Fuzhou on Sunday, scoring 14 points in 28 minutes. Earlier, he had helped coach young players as part of the Nike Rise Academy and took part in a dunking exhibition along with Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon.

He also traveled to a primary school in an underdeveloped village about an hour from Fuzhou, where he interacted with the children.

Holick Lee, founder of the ChinaPacers.com website, spoke with Young by telephone on Sunday. Some excerpts from their conversation follow:

— Young was growing up in Houston when Yao played for the Rockets, and once got his autograph at a game.

— He described his first season with the Pacers as a "medium rookie year" after playing in 41 games for an average of 9.4 minutes and averaging 3.8 points. "Just getting experience," he said. "Not copy cat, but learn from the vets. That was my motive, to really go in there and see what these vets are doing and see what's good and what's not good. I took a lot of positives and brought it to this summer. ...I got out there and showed what I can do and showed that I belong in the league."

— He said he has been rising at 4:30 a.m. and working out three times per day for the past six weeks. "I'm trying to get to that next level to be one of the best point guards in the NBA," he said.

— His summer workouts were delayed by a back injury suffered in Summer League play in Orlando. He went back to the University of Oregon, where he completed his college career, to rehabilitate with the training staff, then returned to Indianapolis.

— He described his offense as "amazing," and has turned his offseason focus to defense. "My main focus is to really get into my guy on the defensive end and put that physicality on him and make him go different ways," he said. "Not let him go where he wants to go. Just learning about angles. That's part of experience, and what I learned from the vets."

— He believes he has a strong relationship with new head coach Nate McMillan, who worked with him individually before games last season while an assistant on Frank Vogel's staff. McMillan constantly told him to keep working, that his chance would come. "When he got that job, he called me the first day and said, 'See what I told you, young fella?'" Young said. "We built a (good) relationship. It's pretty positive."

— He feels positive about the array of offseason moves the Pacers have made, and said the entire roster has been working out at Bankers Life Fieldhouse – aside from Paul George, who participated in the Olympics. "This is the first time they had everybody down there," Young said. "Every player on the roster was down there working out. They were down there early. I feel the organization this year is going to make a big run."