The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

With little fanfare, Young joins men's basketball

You would think that Maurice "Mo" Young is jealous. He too decided to play for Virginia in the next men's basketball season. Yet 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 most publications. But Mathis garnered more consideration 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."

Young committed to Virginia 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, Md.

"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. He had a great [senior] year, but it was kind of overlooked just because he had already committed to our family such a long time ago. We all took him for granted."

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

Yet when you actually watch Young on the court, it becomes clear why he is 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.

This reserved and subdued teenager may not be eye candy for his spectators or create a cover snapshot for a magazine. And yet, only his name jumps out of the statistics as a game's impact player and a team's most vital component.

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 within 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 future teammate Chris Williams, is a silent killer.

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

"My mother always told us to strive for perfection in academics," Young said. "Basketball can be taken away anytime, and then what happens next? Of course I dream about [the pros], but no one knows how things will turn out."

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

"I just worked really hard," Young said. "Other people wanted to go out, but I just played basketball. I'm a homebody. I love to stay home, and I'd stay and spend time with my family rather than go out."

And the focus and perseverance that led him to his distinction will 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 Young is not thinking that far ahead. His sights are set on starting his college career this fall.

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

Comments

Latest Podcast

From her love of Taylor Swift to a late-night Yik Yak post, Olivia Beam describes how Swifties at U.Va. was born. In this week's episode, Olivia details the thin line Swifties at U.Va. successfully walk to share their love of Taylor Swift while also fostering an inclusive and welcoming community.