Prose and Kohn: Ryan Kohn
Lakewood Ranch High boys basketball senior forward Josh Young stands out through repetition.
He does not have the 3-point range of junior guard Keon Buckley, or the obvious athleticism of junior guard Christian Shaneyfelt. He gets noticed almost retroactively, after the team collects rebound after rebound and scores point after point and you realize his production has been substantial.
Perhaps Young needs more credit, or perhaps a nickname.
You could call him “Mr. Clean” after the way the 6-foot-6 big man wiped the boards during the Mustangs’ 47-36 home win against Gulf Coast High during the Class 8A regional quarterfinals (state playoffs round of 32).
Young finished with a team-high 20 points and nine rebounds against the Sharks, with four of the rebounds coming on offense. It seemed like more than four offensive rebounds. Maybe that was because they all occurred when the Mustangs needed a bucket, and Young converted after each one of them.
“I think it gets us going,” Young said of his work on the offensive boards. “It get us more points. If I can get a rebound, I can kick it out or put it back up.”
Take this sequence, for example. The Mustangs, once up 12 points, saw their lead cut to four by the end of the third quarter. Early in the fourth, Shaneyfelt missed a shot, but Young grabbed the rebound, went for a layup, got hit on the wrist — with no foul call — regained control of the ball, went back up for a layup, got hit again — this time the foul was called — and converted from the line.
Or this one with just over two minutes to go, when up seven and trying to keep the Sharks at bay, the Mustangs inbounded the ball to Young, trusting him to go to the free throw line and hit both. He did, then hustled back on defense and collected another rebound. On the Sharks’ next possession, Young intercepted a pass, essentially ending the game.
His coach loves the way he plays.
“Josh’s greatest strength is not being impacted by adversity,” Mustangs coach Jeremy Schiller said. “His faith is what guides him. You can tell he has a calm about him, even in really tough moments. The other part of it is, when those tough moments happen, you can see he wants to be an 18-year-old kid, but he challenges himself not to be and focuses for the team. That is why you see him have these big performances in big moments.”
Maybe Young deserves a better nickname than the mascot of a cleaning product. Knowing he is a big comic book and graphic novel fan, I decided to ask Young what his superhero name would be. He was not sure, but did say if he could be a superhero, he would want to model himself after Goku from the Dragon Ball manga (Japanese comics) series.
“It’s less about his powers and more about his will,” Young said. “He just keeps going, even when things are against him. Kind of like us tonight, with them getting close and us fighting and extending the lead late.”
Kind of like the Mustangs, and kind of like Young himself.
If the Mustangs win their Feb. 26 road game against Riverdale High in the regional semifinals, Josh “Goku” Young and Lakewood Ranch will be back in action 7 p.m. March 1 at home, against either St. Petersburg or East Lake for a spot in the state semifinals.
Update: The Mustangs defeated Riverdale 44-26, and will play East Lake High Friday.