Patrick Kinahan: Hype reaching all-time levels for BYU's Kevin Young


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PROVO — Say this about Kevin Young: No hire in the history of BYU athletics has ever made this type of gigantic splash months before coaching his first game.

Less than two months into replacing Mark Pope as the men's basketball coach, Young has engineered a series of potential great moves that have BYU fans salivating at the possibility of finally enjoying sustained NCAA Tournament success. Never mind that Young is overall a rookie as a college head coach anywhere, let alone at BYU.

Young already has lured assistant coach Chris Burgess away from conference rival Utah and filled out his staff with an assortment of intriguing hires. The string of great news continued with Dallin Hall and Richie Saunders deciding to remain in the program and an influx of promising new players.

This is where we are now, waiting for the 42-year-old wonderkind to unveil his next stroke of genius. If Christmas continues to occur during the spring and summer, we can surmise, just wait until the season starts.

Hold on, yeah, you guessed it, could it be that all the visions of sunshine and rainbows camouflage the struggles that might await? Maybe back off making those Final Four reservations just yet.

BYU basketball has long been a different breed, built on execution rather than the sheer athletic prowess that often dominates the sport at the higher levels. For a multitude of reasons, the Cougars rarely land the player using college as a prelude to the NBA.

For all the fair amount of success the BYU teams have had during the regular seasons over the years, the teams often and painfully flame out in NCAA Tournament. The rare Sweet 16 appearance is cause for all those crazy students to celebrate soberly on campus.

But the hope — or at least the perception — is Young will lead the program out of perpetual abyss of first-round exits. Given time, the Sweet 16 will serve as a prelude to the promised lands of the Elite Eight and, dare we mention, that this is the place, otherwise known as the Final Four.

No one named Young has been appointed to lead this much of an excursion into uncharted territory since ... no, sorry, can't go there. Let's just hope this Young man can approximate the success Steve Young had for the Cougars in football.

To get there, the former NBA assistant coach needs to turn the arc of the recruiting formula that his BYU predecessors have relied on for decades. The type of success the BYU world has clamored for requires a greater infusion of talent, a path that means going beyond the traditional scrappy LDS returned missionary.

Maybe it's more than a coincidence the best players (Danny Ainge and Jimmer Fredette) on BYU's last two Sweet 16 teams separated by 30 years did not take two years away from competitive basketball to serve the faith. Argue amongst yourselves on that one.

Deep tournament runs likely will demand a mixture of players with the ability to blend their skills into a complete team. But at the top, make no mistake, stars have got to shine.

Look no further than those great Utah teams in the 1990s. Stars and role players, many of whom fit the BYU profile, enjoyed incredible tournament success under the watchful, if not overbearing, eye of coach Rick Majerus.

It's on Young and his staff to bring in the likes of NBA lottery picks Keith Van Horn, Andre Miller and Mike Doleac. And don't forget to throw in the cash that many players eye thanks to the NIL benefits.

Here's where it gets tricky, with this thing called the transfer portal. One-and-done players, whether they still have eligibility or declare for the NBA, often are fools' gold that result in March sadness.

Young will recruit future NBA talent — it likely already has happened — but he's got to keep the nucleus aboard for more than 35 games. BYU's best teams historically were built on the familiarity of veterans growing together.

Overhauling much of the roster yearly is among the reasons Pope struck it rich at his alma mater. After 15 years at Kentucky, with only one NCAA championship to show for the assembly line of NBA draft picks he brought in, John Calipari jump ship to take the Arkansas job.

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Patrick is a radio host for 97.5/1280 The Zone and the Zone Sports Network. He, along with David James, are on the air Monday-Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.

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