After two solid years as a starting member of the Western Maryland College basketball squad, Pat Young has asserted himself as a major weapon for the Division III school.
The 6-foot junior shooting guard from Glen Burnie, along with fellow co-captain and All-American candidate Rolando Welch, has given the team a big boost this season.
The Green Terrors are in the thick of the Centennial Conference race with a 2-2 league record (3-5 overall), thanks in part to Young's 18.9-point scoring average, second on the team to Welch's 19.3. He and Welch are second and third among conference leaders.
"Pat is a great example for the rest of the kids to follow. He's highly motivated both academically and athletically," said Western Maryland Nick Zoulias. "I made him a captain in the beginning of his sophomore year because of his leadership qualities. He's always upbeat, and he helps keep his teammates up, too."
Young is shooting 50.5 percent from the field (49-of-97), including 48 percent from three-point range (34-of-70). He also averages 2.6 assists and nearly two steals. His 26-point outing in Western Maryland's opener Nov. 16 against Kean (N.J.) College, a 76-62 loss, tied his career best.
At Mount St. Joseph High in Baltimore, Young made the All-Catholic League team his senior year (1990-91), averaging 18 points. He also played on the Gaels' baseball team, earning the unsung hero award in his senior year.
"I just decided that I didn't want to do both [sports] in college. I wanted to stick to one sport and do well," said Young, who sports a 2.8 grade-point average as a business administration major/accounting minor.
The University of Delaware was the lone Division I school that showed interest in Young for basketball. But he chose Western Maryland over league foe Franklin & Marshall (Pa.) and Davis & Elkins College (W.Va.).
"I chose Western Maryland because it was close to home, it had a good reputation for academics, and it had a nice atmosphere," said Young, a former participant in the Linthicum-Ferndale youth basketball program.
Confidence has been the key this season for Young, who averaged 13.1 points, 2.9 assists and 2.2 rebounds through his first 2 1/2 seasons. As a freshman starter, he averaged 11.2 points. Last season, he improved to 13.3.
"My shot has improved a lot this year because the time I spent working on it while working at summer camp," said Young, who played pick-up ball with the likes of NBA players Walt Williams, Evers Burns, Michael Adams and Tony Massenburg, and Syracuse University standout Lawrence Moten at the University of Maryland camp.
Evidence of his improved shooting came intwo clutch performances this season.
In the Green Terrors' home opener against Muhlenberg (Pa.) College, he hit two three-point baskets in a row in the final 19 seconds of regulation. He hit the game-tying shot with three seconds left and finished with 17 points, four steals and three assists in an 80-76 overtime triumph.
He also helped his team reach the .500 mark (3-3) for the first time Dec. 7 with a 20-point effort against Dickinson (Pa.) College. He finished the first half with four consecutive three-pointers in the final 4:10 to help pace the Green Terrors to an 87-70 win.
Young thinks Western Maryland has as good a chance as any to win the conference title, but not without improving in some areas.
"I think we have to be a little more consistent and we have to play a little better team defense," he said.
"It seems like we play great for a whole half, and then all of a sudden we'll have a big letdown like when we blew a 20-point lead against Washington College. If we want to compete against the league's better teams like Franklin & Marshall and Johns Hopkins, we can't have those letdowns."