It’s that time of year again. Even with football season in full swing, men’s basketball season is right around the corner. To kick off our 2020-2021 coverage of the men’s team, we will preview each player on Northwestern’s roster. We looked at guard Boo Buie Thursday, and now we’ll discuss center Ryan Young.
Who he is
Redshirt sophomore; center; 6-foot-10; 245 pounds; former three-star recruit; Stewartsville, New Jersey.
25.8 minutes per game; 9.0 points; 6.1 rebounds; 1.5 assists; .535 FG%; .143 3P%; .670 FT%
Young started every game for the Wildcats as a redshirt freshman after the graduation of Dererk Pardon. He led the team in both rebounds and field goal percentage, recording three double-doubles, including a breakout game against SIU-Edwardsville in which he put up career highs with 25 points and 12 rebounds.
Young did a majority of his work in the post, taking just 21 three-pointers the entire season. He was efficient in the paint but struggled getting to the line and converting when he made it to the charity stripe. Additionally, he struggled as a paint presence defensively with contesting shots and grabbing rebounds.
Young excels in post play. The majority of his points came from in the paint, and he was able to showcase impressive moves at times. He showed flashes of brilliance with fancy footwork and spin moves but needs to work on consistently implementing that into his game. He shot 70 percent from the field over an eight-game stretch, showcasing his efficiency when given the rock.
Young’s size also comes at an advantage for the ‘Cats. He is able to bully smaller defenders with his physical dominance. Teammates were able to dump it off to him when driving to allow for easy baskets.
Young’s main weakness lies in his presence beyond scoring. Northwestern ranked 268th in rebounds last season, in part due to his struggles on the boards. While he led the team in rebounds, NU finished last in the conference in that categoty.
Young also has not established himself defensively. He averaged only 0.5 blocks per game last season and did not show natural defensive skills. There was a lack of contest on some shots that played into his lack of ability to grab rebounds. He was one of the more consistent ones on a bad defensive ‘Cats team, but he must improve defensively, especially in a conference that sports a plethora of talented bigs.
Young is projected to begin his second season as a starter and should be able to show improvement. He may have been overwhelmed last year as he was at times thrown into the fire of one a tough Big Ten as a freshman. A year under his belt should allow for more confidence and execution.
Young’s 2019 backup, Jared Jones, transferred to Middle Tennessee, but freshman Matt Nicholson should be able to step into the role as backup center to ease the load off of Young. Head coach Chris Collins also said he expects Pete Nance to play some small ball center.
If Young can improve his defense and rebounding, the ‘Cats should see tangible improvement in all facets of his game.