Kevin Young rounds out BYU staff with one of basketball's top defenders

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PROVO — The fifth assistant under new BYU men's basketball coach Kevin Young has been revealed, and it's a rising college basketball assistant — and one of the top defensive players in the game.

The Cougars added former Providence point guard John Linehan to round out the coaching staff, the university announced Wednesday.

"John comes to BYU after working for two coaches I have great respect for in Billy Lange and Tom Crean," Young said. "He is an exceptional player development coach, who has worked with some of the game's great players. John will help our guys get better every day with his energy and passion for development. John is one of the best defensive players in NCAA history and will bring that edge to our program."

Linehan, 46, comes to BYU after most recently spending the past two seasons as an assistant at Saint Joseph's under Billy Lang. The Chester, Pennsylvania, native has spent his entire coaching career on the east coast, starting as an operations assistant at Drexel in 2015 before moving to Brown, Hartford and Georgia prior to his stop in Philadelphia in 2022.

In St. Joseph's, Linehan helped guide a team to a 21-14 record and an NIT bid while also mentoring Xzayvier Brown, a finalist for the Kyle Macy National Freshman of the Year award who averaged 12.7 points per game to go along with 62 steals.

As a player, Linehan was one of the top defensive players in both college and professional basketball, a two-time Big East defensive player of the year at Providence who became the all-time NCAA Division I leader in steals. He became the consensus national defensive player of the year in 2002 by the NABC, ESPN and College Insider, and went on to win the Bob Cousy Award as the top senior in New England who stands below six feet.

His steals record of 385 stood until Dec. 5, 2021, when Richmond's Jacob Gilyard broke the then-20-year-old mark with his 386th career steal in the Spiders' win over Northern Iowa.

The 5-foot-9 guard began his professional career with the Greenville Groove in the National Basketball Development League in 2002. He also played briefly with the Harlem Globetrotters in 2004.

After winning a Continental Basketball Association championship with the Dakota Wizards, Linehan moved to Europe with Paris Basket Racing of France's LNB Pro A and went on to earn French league best defender honors four times with three different teams, as well as French league finals MVP in 2011.

In 2011, while playing in Estonia with Kalev, he was named All-KMBL defensive player of the year.

Linehan joins four other coaches on Young inaugural coaching staff, including former Stanford assistant Brandon Dunson, former Utah assistant Chris Burgess, former Austin Spurs head coach Will Voigt, and former Overtime Elite and European coach Tim Fanning, who also has ties to Young's time in the NBA G League.

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