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Young era begins for Virginia hoops

You might think Maurice "Mo" Young is jealous. He too decided to play for Virginia in the next men's basketball season. But J.C. Mathis stole all the attention by waiting until the last week to decide. He too was one of the best high school players in the nation last year, ranked as high as top 50 in some publications. But Mathis garnered more attention just by being a top-150 prospect.

And while Mathis - the 6-foot-9 power forward from Brooklyn - tantalized Cav fans during his protracted decision process, Young became the forgotten man.

But Young wants to make sure you know that he's not jealous of his future teammate's show-stealing. That's just not Mo.

"I'm a very shy and quiet person," Young said. "I don't want a whole lot of attention on me. I think it's great that [Mathis] received a lot of attention, because less attention was on me. I just want to concentrate on my game."

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  • Bishop McNamara High School's homepage

    Young committed to Virginia on June 24 of last year, more than 10 months before Mathis. With almost all attention centered on Mathis, it was easy to overlook the talent from Mitchellville, Maryland.

    "I think we all kind of forgot about Mo," said Virginia assistant coach Tom Herrion. "He's been with us for so long and was one of the earliest commitments last year on the recruiting scene. We saw a lot of fanfare for [Mathis], and Mo kind of went by the wayside. We all took him for granted."

    Open up those eyes: Mo Young exists. It's hard to believe that anybody could forget a 6-5, 200-pound swingman who is considered one of the best incoming scorers in the country.

    But when you actually see Young on the court, he becomes a little easier to overlook. Though he averaged 24.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 2.5 assists per game for Bishop McNamara High School, he did it without the flash and flair that grabs the spotlight in today's fast-paced game. Young keeps his game basic; putting on a show on the court is the last thing on his mind.

    "Too many young players now play to look good and dunk," Young said. "They fall into that trap - that being flashy will make you better. I'm just out there to play basketball and help my team win."

    Not to say that nobody noticed him. So many people did that Young was named to the The Washington Post's All-Met team and the first team of the Catholic Athletic Conference, considered by many to be the nation's premier high school conference. By being more consistent than flashy - he scored in double figures in 59 consecutive games and shot 61 percent from the floor - Young concluded his high school career as McNamara's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, finishing with 2,125 points and 772 rebounds.

    "[Maurice] is more of a basketball player than he is an athlete," Herrion said. "You really have to watch Mo over the course of a game to really appreciate his game. He's not going to jump out at you with a tremendously athletic play. But what is really impressive is when you take a step back and look at what he has accomplished."

    No wonder Young, hidden behind the shadows of Mathis and the eye-pleasing aspects of basketball, still manages to flourish and surpass his flamboyant colleagues. No wonder he takes onlookers by surprise time and time again, becoming a complete offensive and defensive player. After all, Young, much like his teammate Chris Williams, is a silent killer.

    But Young has much more to bring to Virginia than his extraordinary all-around game. He was an honor student at McNamara, compiling a 3.7 GPA, and says that, if by chance basketball doesn't work out, he might try his hand at accounting.

    Whatever future comes for the soft-spoken teenager, one thing is clear. No matter how modest he is, he owes his prominence largely to himself.

    "I just worked really hard," Young said. "Other people wanted to go out, but I just played basketball. I'm a homebody."

    And the focus and perseverance that led him to his distinction will undoubtedly lead him to an even greater future.

    "He's got unlimited potential," Herrion said. "He'll have a great career basketball-wise, but his future in terms of life is just enormous because of the person that he is - his character and intelligence. He's going to be successful in whatever he does."

    But Mo is not thinking that far ahead. His sights are set on starting his college career this fall.

    Said Young: "All I could do [senior year] was dream about U.Va. I look forward to it all - basketball, school, college life - just everything."


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