As basketball season quickly approaches, the Blue Zone takes a detailed look at Duke men’s basketball’s 2022-23 roster, with a preview of each player. Previously, we’ve highlighted Stanley Borden, Spencer Hubbard, Max Johns and Kale Catchings. Up next is another graduate transfer, Ryan Young:
Year: Graduate student
Last year’s statline (Northwestern): 9.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.3 BPG
Game breakdown: The term “student-athlete” is a compound word that combines two different things: a student and an athlete. It is difficult to be a student-athlete in the truest form, however, and perform both tasks to exceptional effect.
Ryan Young is one such example. the Blue Devils' newest post-graduate acquisition is a true student-athlete by heart. The three-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar arrived in Durham as a graduate student looking to pursue a graduate degree in Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Both in the classroom and on the hardwood, he’s here to learn, grow and provide.
The center is a highly efficient offensive tank that can give a quiet 10 points on any given night—he shot an impressive 55.9% from the field last season. At 235 pounds and strong, Young backs defenders down with ease. Then, with a nimble turnaround, he creates enough separation from the defender to penetrate to the hoop. A combination of his size and soft touch at the rim helps him finish through contact and over defenders, usually in the form of floaters or a quick off-the-glass layup.
Role on the team: Young’s greatest asset is—unlike his name—how not-so-young he is. He boasts three years of college basketball experience with Northwestern, where he played 86 games. On a team known for its one-and-done talent, often with little veteran experience, his prudence will be especially important.
Although his minutes and usage rates will decline at Duke, Young will be an important part of the team’s rotation that can be an off-ball scoring option and a noticeable presence in the paint—he averaged the third-most rebounds at Northwestern with 4.2 per game. Behind the team’s other big men like Dereck Lively II and Kyle Filipowski, expect the Northwestern graduate to be the third-string center that head coach Jon Scheyer can put on if and when he is needed.
NBA comparison: Young shares a fair few similarities with Ivica Zubac, the Croatian double-double machine on the Los Angeles Clippers. They both use their bigger frames to bully defenders in the post and, when given enough space, use their fabulous feel of the ball to sink in a well-timed floater. Both bigs do have a noticeable weakness in their game, though: their ability to size up and break down defenders facing the rim. Young, especially, tends to resort to a set of post-up moves when in need of a bucket, allowing for some element of predictability.
Projected stats: 2.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.6 BPG, 12 MPG
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