Duke Ryan Young basketball transfer impresses Blue Devils
Five-star recruits turning into Duke freshmen are getting a lot of attention, especially projected 2023 NBA first-round picks Derek Lively and Dariq Whitehead.
One of those newcomers, however, warns not to overlook another player who is new to the Blue Devils, but not to college basketball.
“Ryan Young,” Whitehead said, after one of Duke’s summer basketball practices in July.
While the Blue Devils added a trio of big freshman men in 7-1 Lively, 6-11 Kyle Filipowski and 6-11 Christian Reeves, the 6-10, 240-pound Young brings something different to the first formation of Jon Scheyer as head coach of Duke. .
“Playing in the Big 10 for four years, three, really on the court,” Scheyer said. “He brings great experience, great value there.”
Young spent four seasons at Northwestern, graduating in June before enrolling in Duke’s Fuqua School of Business for graduate school. After a redshirt season, he played the last three seasons for Chris Collins, the former Duke player and assistant coach who just completed his ninth season as Northwestern head coach.
But not only did Young never play in the playoffs, he was never part of a winning season with the Wildcats.
Duke, a Final Four team last spring and an NCAA Tournament team in every season but one since 1995, offers something better.
“Everything about Duke made him an easy pick,” Young said. “But honestly, I really want to be part of a program that I can help win and have a positive impact on. I’ve never been in the playoffs, so it’s really exciting. I want to be able to help the team to qualify for the playoffs.
Young projects as a veteran big man who serves as a reserve behind Lively and Filipowski, while Reeves takes a redshirt season. Another transfer graduate, Theo John, filled that role last season behind 7-1 runner-up Mark Williams.
John played 11.3 minutes per game, contributing 2.8 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. Williams played 23.6 minutes per game, was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year and was the 15th overall pick in the NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets in June.
Animated characters to play the most minutes of any Duke big man this season. But there are serious discussions. Young could play more than 11.3 minutes per game like John did.
His play during Duke’s summer practices, with hard-nosed rebounds, effective defense and shrewd post moves, convinced Whitehead.
“I’m sure even the coaches didn’t realize he was that good,” Whitehead said.
At Northwestern, Young averaged 9.0 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 55.9 percent in 31 games last season.
He had 20 points in two November games against High Point and Farleigh Dickinson. But, more impressively, he scored 17 points later that month against Georgia.
That improved in January, when Young produced 18 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals as Northwestern won 64-62 at Michigan State.
He excelled in foul drawing, which happened an average of 6.2 times per 40 minutes of play last season, according to KenPom.com. Young was called for 4.5 fouls per 40 minutes.
Compare that to John, who fouls 7.0 every 40 minutes while being fouled 2.2 times every 40 minutes. Williams’ averages were 3.5 fouls committed and 3.0 fouls fired.
Young made 67% of his free throws, so he did a decent job of converting those foul shots into points.
Young could have transferred to another school where a starting role was more likely, or there was an easier path to more minutes per game. He chose Duke, he said, to play at the highest level, get a great education and contribute to a winning team.
Lively and Filipowski are in line for more minutes per game, but Young could still give Duke a major boost off the bench, whether it’s just to spell them out or if they get in trouble.
“I redshirted my freshman year,” he said. “So, you know, I kind of went through the whole process of being a very young player. These guys are more competitive than I was in first year, but that’s something I come in and help these guys learn, be a really good mentor but also have a positive effect on the pitch, be someone who can help win games.