Kevin Young’s first 10 days at BYU prove productive, tell a story

New BYU basketball coach Kevin Young flies with his family from Arizona to Utah for a press conference on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.
New BYU basketball coach Kevin Young flies with his family from Arizona to Utah for a press conference on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. | Nate Edwards

The Kevin Young era, operating out of two offices in two states and wearing two hats, all came together Friday night when he took his BYU basketball team to see him work the NBA playoffs.

Young’s Phoenix Suns hosted the higher-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves. At last, Young could work. Well, he worked both jobs for a few hours, according to “BYU Sports Nation” host Jarom Jordan.

BYU hired Young to replace Kentucky-bound Mark Pope on Tuesday, April 16, and 10 days later, after burning through cell phone minutes, he’d hired former Stanford assistant Brandon Dunson and convinced transfer portal dwellers Richie Saunders and Dallin Hall to come home and quit looking at Kentucky, Creighton and Duke.

He then signed a former USC signee out of Corner Canyon High, four-star stretch forward Brody Kozlowski.

That’s just the publicly announced connections, agreements and contracts. There is other behind-the-scenes work ripening while Young remains as the Suns’ chief assistant coach.

The signing of Kozlowski was huge for Young. The previous coaching staff failed to land Kozlowski this past fall when he signed with the future Big Ten Trojans.

This, despite his mother Kristen working as a key game color analyst for BYUtv on campus both courtside and in the studio. When USC’s coaching staff that signed him left for SMU, Kozlowski opened up his recruiting and obtained a release from USC.

Not only did Young get Kozlowski to not follow SMU’s staff, but he convinced him to stay in-state and come under his umbrella when other in-state schools certainly could have used him.

Kozlowski is a 6-foot-7 rebounder and shooter known for his physical play and accuracy from distance and inside. Kozlowski battled an injury late in his high school career but had a dominant state playoff run and turned a lot of heads as an AAU player on the national stage. He is a hungry defender, always anxious to take on the opposing team’s best player.

Kozlowski told ESPN 960 host Ben Criddle this past week he was excited to join Young and ride his visions for the upcoming season and beyond.

Kozlowski was impressed with one particular pitch from Young, and it will likely become Young’s calling card in months and years to come: Young has developed NBA talent and has NBA connections.

“I met with him after he had the (press conference),” said Kozlowski. “I met him with my parents in his office. To me, he was just a super genuine guy who could connect with you right away.

“I knew he was going to be a coach that has really super good experiences, like from the NBA, connecting to the NBA and he’ll do everything he can to improve my game in ways that other coaches can’t.”

There it is. Young’s calling card in recruiting.

Kozlowski had been looking not only at ACC-bound SMU, but Colorado, Colorado State, Nevada and schools in Utah.

Beside Kozlowski, no doubt Young used his pitch on Saunders and Hall, and it was attractive.

BYU hasn’t had an NBA coach filter down to Provo. LaDell Andersen did coach at BYU after being the head guy with the Utah Stars of the ABA. Roger Reid moved forward to the NBA after leaving BYU, most notably joining the staff of the Suns in 1998.

Young’s NBA badge is a curious twist for BYU and the Big 12. Young’s no-nonsense approach, his humility and his reputation for building relationships are inviting and pleasing, at least so far with these three four-star-rated recruits.

Hall’s return was imperative as BYU’s point guard/quarterback. Saunders is easily one of the most beloved players to fans because of his 120% effort on the court, doing all the hard work from rebounding to steals and making big shots.

Now, no question there is more to the stories of these guys. NIL came into play, as did BYU’s traditional athletic department pitch to open up the school’s vast alumni corporate connections for mentoring.

That BYU went 3 for 3 with this trio shows the BYU-associated collectives involved didn’t mess around. In discussing NIL, BYU had to not only be present, but be seated front and center competitively to win.

Yes, Young’s first dozen days have been very interesting to watch. This is a different BYU, operating with Big 12 revenue.

What will the next 10 days bring?

What’s on tap when he’s a full-time BYU head coach?

Butter the popcorn, sprinkle a little salt.

Kevin Young
New BYU basketball coach Kevin Young's family members greet former BYU star Danny Ainge at his introductory press conference at the Marriott Center on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. | Nate Edwards, BYU