It's complicated, but Providence should still let Joseph Young go

If all you read are Michael Young's comments in Thursday morning's Providence Journal, it would be almost impossible to justify Providence's refusal to release his son Joseph from the letter of intent he signed last November.

Dig a little deeper, however, and it's clear there are many layers to this story.

Although the Young family has said Joseph wants to go to school closer to his Houston home to be closer to his 45-year-old aunt awaiting a heart transplant, the Journal's Kevin McNamara relays another school of thought. There are some who believe that a major reason Joseph has suddenly soured on Providence is because the University of Houston is suddenly a more appealing option than it was when highly touted 6-foot-2 guard signed eight months ago.

At the time, it was clear that then-Houston coach Tom Penders was considering retirement and would not be around for Joseph's college career. Sure enough, Penders did retire after leading the Cougars to an NCAA Tournament berth. He was replaced by James Dickey, who quickly chose to rehire Michael Young as the program's director of operations and performance enhancement. Dickey's hiring certainly makes staying home and playing in Houston a better option for local prospects such as Joseph Young.

Providence coach Keno Davis hasn't publicly addressed Young's situation since his original statement last month, but by not releasing Young he's essentially saying he doesn't believe the family's story. If neither Providence nor the letter of intent policy and review committee grant Young's release, he'll have to sit out next season and lose a year of eligibility if he enrolls at another school.

Putting aside the health of Young's aunt and the opportunity to play at Houston, it's easy to understand why he'd be reluctant to go to Providence considering the nightmarish spring the program endured.

Johnnie Lacy and James Still were expelled after allegedly beating a fellow student in mid-April. Leading scorer and rebounder Jamine Peterson was dismissed from school a few weeks later as a result of an on-campus incident with a group of 15-year-old AAU players. Then in June, well-respected assistant coach Pat Skerry bolted for Big East rival Pittsburgh and promising point guard recruit Naadir Tharpe backed out of his commitment.

All those losses have sapped Providence of much of its talent, so it's certainly in Davis' interest to hold onto a recruit who helped lead Yates High to an undefeated season and a Texas state title as a senior. Still, much like DePaul with Walter Pitchford, the Friars come off looking petty and one recruit isn't worth the bad press they've received.

If Young wants to be closer to his ailing aunt, Providence should release him. If Young is concerned about the direction of the program under Davis, Providence should release him. And if Young simply wants to play for Dickey and his father at Houston, Providence has made its point about the potential tampering and it should still release him.

It's a complicated story, but the solution is simple.

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