INDIANAPOLIS — Sunday’s Elite Eight matchup between Kentucky and Michigan would seem to have some special significance to one Wildcat in particular, but it doesn’t.
UK freshman James Young played his high school basketball in the Detroit area, less than an hour’s drive from the Wolverines’ Ann Arbor campus.
Even so …
“I’m just going to treat it like another game,” Young said Saturday.
Part of the reason: Young never seriously considered the Wolverines as a college destination.
Young chose the Wildcats over Michigan State, Syracuse and Kansas. Louisville and Arizona were also mentioned late in his recruitment, but never the Wolverines.
He told the Herald-Leader last year that he grew up a fan of former UK star Tayshaun Prince, who later played for the Detroit Pistons. Young watched the Wildcats during the Tubby Smith days, and that fandom continued when John Calipari came to Lexington.
Michigan Coach John Beilein said Saturday that he never really got to see Young play much as a high school prospect.
“I saw him in the AAU circuit more than we saw him when he was in high school,” Beilein said. “But I don’t think he ever did an unofficial visit at all. So, can’t tell you exactly the reason why. But he’s having a great career at Kentucky.”
In an interview last April, Young said he caught some flak from friends back home when he picked the Wildcats. To him, if Kentucky offered a scholarship, Lexington would be his landing spot.
“A lot of people banged on me like, ‘Why didn’t you go to Michigan? Michigan State? It’s your hometown.’ But I’ve always wanted to leave the state for college,” he said. “I talked it over with my family and it’s something I felt like I should do.”