September 9, 2013

The song of Solomon

Kevin McCarthy

He's a 2016 prospect, still just 15-years-old but after a freshman season at Sacramento High and a spring/summer with the Nor Cal Wildcats 17U Elite, Solomon Young is already composing beautiful music on the court.

photo of Solomon Young

What makes Young most intriguing is his potential for the making of a majestic court symphony. Currently standing 6-foot-6 and weighing in at 215, he has already demonstrated game-changing inside/outside potential. Young can bruise and bang in the paint plus also move beyond the arc to display a deft touch on his shot. His size 17 feet indicate that more inches are soon to arrive to his height.

Some talents personify that it's all about the Benjamins and getting bragging rights college offers but Young epitomizes unselfishness on the court -- for him, its the Ws that count and he is also working to be both his best and the best.

“I know there are players out there who are better than me and what drives me is I want to be the best, the top-ranked #1 prospect in the nation,” Young offered.

His other objective? A boldly stated: “I want my team to win state the next three years.”

Sacramento is coming a 25-9 overall season, 13-1 in the Metro Conference.

Guards De'Von Boyd, Aaron Cameron, Joe Barnes and frontcourter James Hadnot have moved on to Chaminade, Cal State East Bay, Cosumnes River College and Ranger College respectively. That's four double-figure scorers in the rear view mirror.

But Young, fellow sophomores Christian Terrell and Tre Finch and senior Kellen Simpson all return for Coach Derek Swafford plus a plethora of other soon-to-be-displayed talent. The Dragon roster isn't fully set as yet but it will be heavy on youngsters, with the possibility of just three upperclassmen.

“We have lots of guards and should do well and get pretty far in the playoffs if we play as a team,” Young said.

Here's Swafford on his protege: “Solomon is quiet, humble and thankful, a very good young man. He's still a diamond in the rough but he's going to have a great career in high school and college. He has a 3.4 grade point average and is becoming a leader on the team.”

Nor Cal Wildcats Coach George Sousa Jr. offered this: “Solomon brings to mind Aaron Gordon because he also goes all out all the time. They have the same level of motor and that's not an attribute you can teach. He goes after every single rebound.”

Sousa added, “Solomon's just 15-years-old and played against 6-foot-10, 6-foot-11 17-and-18-year-olds this summer and did well.”

Plus, reflecting on the maturity already displayed, “Solomon never changes his facial expression regardless of how hard he gets fouled or what the score is. We wanted to challenge our young guys by playing up and he never backed down.”

The plan is to play Young more at the four spot but also having him face the basket more. Alluding to Young's soft touch and prowess at shooting from distance, Sousa said, “we encourage him to shoot the three.” But Sousa cautioned, “he's still learning to shoot off the dribble” -- just imagine the difficulties of guarding him once that element is part of his repertoire.

Asked about a best moment on the court, Young replied, “We were real upset after losing to Grant High” (72-69 on February 27). 10 days later, the two rivals matched up again and the Dragons won 77-52. “I had 20 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks.”

He sees “my rebounding” as his best basketball talent at this date.

How Young came to connect with the Wildcats began with an invitation followed by a challenging practice. “It was kind of hard which I liked and I enjoyed the team. It was a good fit for me.”

A trio of NBA professionals make up Young's biggest basketball influences: “Dirk Nowitzki due to his shooting range and because he shoots so high I've never seen anyone block him, Lebron James because of how he drives and pulls up without a lot of dribbling and Shaq being so big and powerful.”

There's a history of family sports participation. Young's late father played football and ran track at Grant High and his sister played two years at Sacramento City College before finishing up her eligibility at a school in Texas. She was known on the court for her rebounding.

That attribute apparently runs in the family.