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McKeesport native Mike Young has come full circle in committing to Pitt

| Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, 12:21 a.m.

Mike Young made the most difficult decision in his life when he decided to leave his family in McKeesport and head to New Jersey to play high school basketball.

Now his life has come full circle and he couldn't be happier. Young, a 6-foot-8 small forward ranked by ESPN.com as the No. 67 basketball player in the Class of 2013, made a verbal commitment Saturday to play at Pitt.

“It's going to be great because my family never got to see me play and now they're going to be able to see me all the time,” Young said. “It's going to be a bigger stage and the games are going to be more intense with teams like Duke and North Carolina coming to town. It's gonna be great.”

Pitt and Syracuse will be moving from the Big East to the ACC in the 2013-14 academic year — Young's freshman season — but the shift had nothing to do with his decision to go with Pitt over other Division I teams, including Florida, Xavier, Georgia Tech and Memphis. Instead, he relied on his own convictions and a personal relationship he's developed with head coach Jamie Dixon and assistant coach Brandin Knight.

“The ACC is the best conference, but Pitt going to the ACC was almost a bonus,” Young said. “Aside from being close to home, Coach Knight, , whether I was going to be a Pitt player or not, he helped me to be a better basketball player and ... Coach Dixon was always in contact with me and my mom and that's what put them over the top.”

Young played as a freshman at Shady Side Academy and was one of the top players in the WPIAL when he opted to transfer to St. Benedict's Prep in Newark. He left there and went to Hudson High School, where he averaged 16 points and 13 rebounds last season, but will finish his prep career at St. Benedict's this season.

Though leaving home was a difficult decision, he had already gotten a taste of what it was like when he lived on Shady Side's campus.

“I felt like New Jersey was going to put me on a bigger stage and get me more exposure,” Young said. “I just felt like going to Jersey was going to help me become a better basketball player, but it was also going to make me become a much better person and help with my maturity and just growing up.”

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kbarnes@tribweb.com or 412-664-9161, ext. 1977.

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