Wednesday, on the first day of college basketball’s spring signing period, Wyoming head coach Allen Edwards said the Cowboys had only pursued transfer players or players from prep schools in this recruiting cycle.
The thinking was that a prep school player’s extra year of experience would better prepare them to immediately contribute to the Cowboys, Edwards said. And unlike junior college players, of which Wyoming signed one, a prep school recruit comes in with four remaining years of eligibility.
Friday evening, Wyoming unofficially added a sixth player to its recruiting class, its fifth from a prep school, when Trace Young verbally committed to Wyoming. Young, a small forward out of Mt. Zion Prep in Baltimore, Maryland, said he’s far better suited to contribute at the Division I level now than he would have been a year ago.
“It’s a tremendous difference,” said Young, a consensus three-star recruit. “The maturity of your body, the speed of the game, the way you think, the way you move. It gives you another year to sharpen up your skills on the court. I feel like it really gave me a step ahead of being able to step on the court right away and play.”
With Young’s commitment, the Cowboys now have two pairs of prep school teammates set to join the team in 2018-19. Wyoming had already signed guard Bradley Belt and forward Brandon Porter out of Washington Academy in Greenville, North Carolina, and guard Tariq Johnson, who attended Mt. Zion along with the 6-foot-9, 190-pound Young, also signed Wednesday.
“That’s my man,” Young said of Johnson. “I love ‘Riq to death. Of course, he’s been talking to me. We’ve been exchanging messages, talking on the phone. He was a big help. So he recruited me just as hard as the coaches did if not harder. So he helped out a lot.”
On the coaching side, assistant coach Jermaine Kimbrough was the first Wyoming coach to recruit Young.
“But once I got onto campus, I love every single one of the coaches,” Young said. “They were cool right away as soon as I met them.”
Young visited Wyoming the weekend of April 7 with College of Southern Idaho commit Jake Hendricks, who shortly thereafter became Wyoming’s first junior college commit of the class.
“It was a great visit,” Young said. “We didn’t spend a lot of time on the visit together, because they kind of separated us and gave us our own individual little visit, but it was cool to get to know Jake, and of course I’m looking forward to playing with him next year.”
Young was also considering Georgia Tech, East Carolina and Texas Tech, he said, but tweeted Friday that Wyoming would be his next home.
“The style of play, the coaches, the recent success really piqued my interest in them,” he said of Wyoming. “But once I got on the campus, I could feel the family atmosphere, and I knew right away, that’s where I wanted to be. ... And when it came down to it, Wyoming, I had no doubt in my mind that was where I wanted to go.”
Young has yet to officially sign and did not know exactly when his verbal commitment would be put to ink. The current signing period ends May 16.
“Of course, as soon as I get a chance (I want to sign), but there’s no set date right now,” Young said.
Young attended North Hardin High School in Radcliff, Kentucky, before spending a year at Mt. Zion. He briefly spent time at Huntington Prep in West Virginia, and at one point held offers from power conference schools Kansas State, Southern California and Virginia Tech.
Young expects to bring a level of versatility to Wyoming’s somewhat position-less style of basketball under Edwards.
“Everywhere they can play me is where they’ll play me,” he said. “I’ll play the one through five. That’s one thing that me and Coach Edwards really talked about that would be good for me is I’m very versatile, and I can move well to be 6-9. So I can play all over the floor.”
Another component to Young and Wyoming clicking was the fact that he hoped to find a school where he could immediately contribute, and the Cowboys are dealing with the loss of at least eight players from their 2017-18 team.
Thanks to his year at Mt. Zion, Young said, he is more prepared to step in.
“Maturity, on and off the court,” he said of what he took from his prep school year. “Just being able to be a productive person in society, helping people off the court as well as helping my teammates on the court. I feel like it helped me become a more well-rounded person.”