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Standout forward Young commits to Pitt

| Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012, 12:08 p.m.

His mind clear of one big question, power forward Mike Young led his team to the championship of an outdoor basketball league Saturday night in Manchester. But first, he took care of his future.

Before the game, Young telephoned Pitt coach Jamie Dixon and gave him a verbal commitment that he will join the Panthers next year. Young, a resident of McKeesport who played his freshman season at Shady Side Academy, became the first member of the Class of 2013 to commit to the Panthers.

“(Dixon) wanted me really bad,” said Young, who will play the upcoming season for St. Benedict's (N.J.) Prep, one of the nation's top high school teams. “I was his No. 1 priority. He was so excited, he was stumbling over his words. He said he can't wait to talk to me some more.”

Young said he chose Pitt because the coaching staff had been recruiting him since his freshman year. He said he has felt comfortable talking to assistant coach Brandin Knight for a long time.

“We can have a conversation about life, outside of basketball,” Young said.

Plus, Young said he wanted to go to college close to home after spending the past two seasons in New Jersey. He went to St. Benedict's as a sophomore, but left last year for Hudson (N.J.) Catholic after his coach resigned. He returned to St. Benedict's this year under new coach Mark Taylor.

Young, who is ranked 67th in the nation by ESPN.com and 102nd by Rivals.com, chose Pitt over Florida, his other finalist. He also had offers from Connecticut, Miami, Massachusetts, Memphis, Xavier, St. John's, N.C. State, Seton Hall, Rutgers, West Virginia and Georgia Tech.

Young, 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, averaged 16 points and 13 rebounds at Hudson last season.

“Mike is a good rebounder,” ESPN senior analyst Dave Telep said, “and what he has is a mixture of presence in the paint and on the perimeter to be a dangerous (power forward). Mike really cranked it up to the level of a top-75 guy when he became a more aggressive rebounder. I think Jamie Dixon gave him every chance to become a Pittsburgh Panther. They dangled it and let him chase it.”

ESPN ranks Young the 19th-best power forward in the nation.

Pitt is awaiting a decision from another of its 2013 targets: small forward Jamel Artis of Vermont Academy. Artis, 6-5 and 180, is a Baltimore native who also has offers from La Salle and Dayton. He is expected to announce his choice before the end of the month.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can reached at jdipaola@tribweb.com or 412-320-7997.

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