Young introduced as BYU’s head men’s basketball coach

Brigham Young University director of athletics Tom Holmoe officially introduced Kevin Young as the head coach of BYU men’s basketball program on Wednesday evening.

24-25mBKB Coach Kevin Young Press Conference 011124-25mBKB Coach Kevin Young Press Conference 0111

PROVO, Utah – Brigham Young University director of athletics Tom Holmoe officially introduced Kevin Young as the head coach of BYU men’s basketball program on Wednesday evening.

On the influence of the coaches he played for

“I was really lucky as a player. I always had really good coaches. The whole reason I wanted to be a coach is because of my high school coach, Roger Kvam. He had the most impact on my life as a high school youngster. I wanted to be like him. He had a great life. He had five kids and coached basketball and taught P.E. every day. I thought that seemed pretty cool, so I wanted to be just like him. I played in college, jumped into coaching and one thing led to another that took me on a different path.”

On juggling coaching for the Phoenix Suns in the playoffs and beginning head coaching duties at BYU

“It’s going to be a challenge, but I look forward to it because there’s a lot of special relationships I have with the guys in Phoenix. I’ve been with a couple of them, Devin Booker in particular, for four years and came two wins away from an NBA Championship. I’m invested in those guys. Juggling the staffing here is huge though. I’ve been working tirelessly assembling a staff. I’ve been on the phone more in the last 24 hours than ever. Outside of building relationships with our players here, my first order of business is assembling a staff who can hold the fort down.”

On the path to being head coach at BYU

“I connected with Brian [Santiago] and Tom [Holmoe] about four or five years ago through a mutual connection when I was out in Philadelphia. In the back of my mind, I thought that maybe being the head coach here could happen someday. Never in a million years did I think it would happen in the timeline it did but I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. 

On the system he plans to run at BYU

“I’ve run the offense of every team I’ve been a part of. A lot of that has been based around where the NBA has shifted to. That’s kind of how BYU has played the last couple of years; fast-paced, spreading the floor, getting up and down, read and react. There’s going to be a lot of that. I’ve encouraged our guys here at BYU to watch this series I’m coaching between the Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves so they can take notes on how we’re doing some things. There will be some similarities with teams I’ve coached in the NBA, for sure. 

I’m a modern thinker. I want to push the envelope analytically, I want to push the envelope with shooting 3-pointers. I’m really excited about the defensive side of the ball. I’ve been on the offensive side for so long in the NBA that I’ve been able to see how elite defenses guard certain things. So, I’ve been able to put together a pretty extensive background defensively as well. I look forward to being able to scheme and get creative defensively.”

On the passion of college basketball

“It’s not going to be the first time I’ve lived in Utah. I coached for the Utah Flash, the old minor league basketball team in Utah. In fact, I lived in BYU housing and met my wife while she was a student at BYU. I’m familiar with everything that’s going on around here. When I was coaching for the Flash, that was during Jimmer Fredette’s time playing here. I remember coming to a game here when BYU played Wake Forest, and that was the most incredible atmosphere I had ever been in at the college level. The passion of college basketball, that’s what excites me about being here. My family hasn’t experienced that passion. In the NBA you get some, but not like it is here.”

On the backing of the ROC

“I look forward to getting to know all of the students on campus here. I’m thrilled about it for my kids, so they can feel what it’s going to be like in here, how loud it’s going to get in here, the passion that everyone has. I’ve coached a couple of players who played at Duke. I hear their student section might rival the fans here. I want to be able to rub it in those guys’ faces about how much better this place is.”

On his wife’s excitement to come to BYU

“In terms of her first reaction — a lot of emotion. I’m actually going to take you past her first emotion. We were in midair, actually. I was flying from Sacramento to Minnesota, and she sent me a really long text letting me know how she felt about everything that we had going on that was really impactful for me. She’s as excited, or more, about this opportunity. She had a major, major influence on me coming here and what it would do for our family life. She’s amazing.”

On being clean shaven for the first time in a while

“We had practice this morning in Phoenix as we’re getting ready for the playoffs. I walked in there, and all the guys were kind of looking at me, and we had a good laugh about it. Funny enough, my wife’s been wanting me to shave for like 13 years, so the fact that here it is, she’s happy about that.”

On the process of being hired

“Honestly, at this point, all the days are running together, so I don’t remember exactly how things went down. Just to be transparent, I was making the interview circuit in the NBA on some head coaching fronts, and all the while, we had a six- or seven-day road trip with the Suns. So I would break off from them and go have meetings with executives and owners and then fly back to meet the team and so forth. I was already juggling a lot, and right when I landed from one of those meetings, I got word of Coach Pope leaving to Kentucky, which was a tremendous opportunity for him. Shortly after that, my phone rang, and then just wildfire happened after that, to be honest with you. My wife and I were juggling a lot, but the tricky part was that her and I weren’t together. I was on the road in LA, Sacramento and Minnesota, and we were trying to make, arguably, the biggest decision of our lives. I was trying to tell everyone involved that I just had to get home to my wife and look at her in the eyes and talk this thing through. It’s been a wild ride, but we obviously landed in an amazing place.”

On adapting to recruiting in college

“What I’m learning is that it’s actually starting to trend to be more similar to the way that the NBA works as I’m learning the ins and outs of it. Again, leveraging relationships. I’ve been coaching for almost 20 years and I know people at every level. It’s been amazing to have a reminder of how big my network actually is. Again, relationships in this business are of the utmost importance both with the players and with the people on the grassroots front, the agents, coaches, the whole nine yards. My own personal network for staff pieces is enormous. I’m going to surround myself with people that that’s what they’re elite at. That’s what’s going to help us the most.”

On adapting to unique challenges of college basketball like NIL and the transfer portal

“These are the biggest differences. The big thing for me there is that we have great support here in terms of administration and how things are run here. I was scared of that to be honest with you. Being able to rely on the people that are here is a huge priority for me with the staff is having people that I can surround myself with that have an amazing grasp on that. But not just a grasp, but that are elite at navigating those waters will really help me do what I’m best at.”

On choosing BYU and leaving the NBA

“Once I realized how special this place was, it became easier and easier to be honest with you. I’ve known a lot of these guys, Tom [Holmoe] and Brian [Santiago] and I go back some years. But when President Reese and Keith [Vorkink] came down and we were talking, that moved the needle quite heavily for me. As it relates to the NBA and the dream and so forth, truth be told, it’s never actually been my dream to be a head coach in the NBA. I love basketball, I love working with young players and I love developing players and building relationships. To be able to do all those things at a place that has the family atmosphere that I so desire for my kids and my wife to be around, it actually became a really easy choice.”

On connecting with the players

“Where I really want to start this thing with is the players. You guys are the first ones I saw when I got into this building. I just told all of them in the locker room: The things you guys were able to accomplish in the first year in the Big 12 was absolutely remarkable. I cannot wait to have every one of you guys back in a BYU uniform and get to it. Make no mistake about it. That’s my first priority: those guys. I’ve already started building relationships with those guys, and we’re going to take that part of it to a whole new level. If I learned anything in the NBA, this whole thing is about relationships. I’ve been able to build relationships with some of the best players in the world and am currently still working with those guys. I’m hoping to take them to somewhere they haven’t been yet in this playoff run. It’s all about those relationships.”

On the unique opportunity at BYU

“This is a new challenge for me. I’ve been on a different side of basketball all of my career, and as I went through the process to get to this decision, the excitement I had for the new challenge at hand in terms of transition to the college world from the world I was in got me extremely excited as I started to wrap my head around what that looks like. The thing that really moved the needle for me and my wife was the environment that we’re going to be in here at BYU. What this university stands for, what the mission of this university is. I’m a lifelong member of the Church and so to be able to do what I love at the highest level from a career standpoint and blend that with my faith, and being able to with my wife and my little ones, that’s why we came here. On top of that, the thing that has blown me away is just the level of support from the athletic department, from the university, from many people with the resources that this place has. The fact that this is the Big 12, the highest level of college basketball, there was a lot of things that played a role in coming here.

Because of the history of this school and this program, and what you guys have been able to accomplish before I showed up. In addition with the resources and the reputation of the school, players want to play here. I’ve learned that quickly. Players want to play here, and coaches want to coach here. I’m in the process now of putting together a staff and talking to a lot of different people. This is a very desirable place to be. I look forward to teaming up with a lot of elite people that we’re going to get in here and do this thing together. With that, let’s go cougs.”

On how his NBA experience will help

“I just want to make it clear that coming from my background and talking to the players, all of them have ambitions of playing in the NBA. With my background, this is an amazing place and has been for a long time. But I want to take it to the next level. Let’s make this place the best place in college basketball and prepare them to play in the NBA. With my background, I think we’re going to be able to get that done, and I really look forward to doing that.”