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Pitt's Young to return for senior season

By John Grupp
Saturday, April 26, 2008

In the end, the decision was easy for Sam Young.

Young, who scored more points last season than any player in Pitt men's basketball history, is returning for his senior year.

"We are going to come back next year and blow the roof off this place," Young said. "I can't wait."

The 6-foot-6 first-team All-Big East forward -- whose decision will lift expectations at Pitt to full bore -- had flirted with the idea of declaring for the NBA draft but instead will lead what promises to be a highly anticipated 2008-09 season for the Panthers.

Young, an AP All-American honorable mention pick, made the announcement Friday afternoon at Petersen Events Center. Sunday is the deadline for the NBA Draft Early Entry declaration.

Young, one of the most improved players in the nation, was projected as a mid-second round pick in most NBA mock drafts. Only first-round picks are guaranteed contracts.

While the NCAA landscape is dotted with players declaring early for the NBA draft, Young realized another year at Pitt was his best option.

"After the season, I kind of considered (turning pro) a little bit," he said. "After talking it over with my mother, I pretty much decided it was only one more year. I'm just going to come back and get my degree."

Young, who will turn 23 on June 1, said there was some inclination to test the NBA waters. He could have attended the pre-draft camp in Orlando, worked out for a handful of teams - at the pro team's expense - and then withdrawn his name by June 16. As long as he didn't hire an agent, Young would be free to return to Pitt.

Young called the process "a moot point."

"I felt if I wasn't going to fully commit," he said, "why commit at all."

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said he encouraged his star forward to examine the NBA offerings and weigh his decision carefully.

"I was making sure he really looked into it, because when you accomplish the things he did this year, it has to be discussed," Dixon said. "That's really the approach we took. I think he handled it well."

Young finished third in the Big East at 18.1 points per game and scored 668 points to break the previous Panther single-season mark of 651.

The high-flying Young finished first or second on the team in points, rebounds, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, blocks, steals and, of course, soaring, windmill dunks. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Big East Tournament, as the Panthers (27-10) won the title for the second time in the program's history.

By returning to Pitt, Young will have a chance to work on the skills needed to play small forward/shooting guard in the NBA - ball-handling, shooting, perimeter defense.

He will also make Pitt, with point guard Levance Fields and center DeJuan Blair among the returnees, a consensus top-10 team in the 2008-09 preseason polls.

"The sky's the limit for us," Young said. "We are not going to settle this year at all."

Note: Dixon said senior forward Mike Cook (knee) is putting together his appeal to the NCAA requesting a sixth year of eligibility. Dixon said there is no set timetable for a decision from the NCAA. ...Aaron Gray, who finished his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls, was in town the past couple of days and stopped by Petersen Events Center.



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