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BYU hires Suns top assistant Kevin Young as next men’s basketball head coach

By DARNELL DICKSON - Daily Herald | Apr 16, 2024

Mary Schwalm, Associated Press

Phoenix Suns assistant coach Kevin Young directs his team during a game against the Boston Celtics on Dec. 31, 2021, in Boston.

The BYU men’s basketball program has dipped into the NBA ranks for its next coach.

And it’s gonna cost them.

Kevin Young, a 42-year-old associate head coach with the Phoenix Suns, is BYU’s next coach, the school announced Tuesday. According to reports, Young will sign a seven-year contract for $30 million, an unprecedented opening of the wallet for BYU athletics.

Also unprecedented was the short amount of time it took for what is normally a long, laborious hiring process that involves the school’s board of directors in Salt Lake City. When Dave Rose retired in 2019, it took 15 days for BYU to lock up Mark Pope.

When Pope took the Kentucky job on Friday, it took Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe and Deputy Sports Director Brian Santiago (along with some assistance from Cougar legend and Utah Jazz CEO of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge, as well as Jazz owner Ryan Smith) just five days to make Young the next head coach.

Young marks a departure for BYU, who has never hired a head coach with NBA coaching experience.

“We are excited to announce Kevin as our new head men’s basketball coach and welcome him and his family to BYU,” Holmoe said in a news release. “We had a variety of excellent candidates and a lot of interest in this position. Kevin is someone we have had our eye on for a while. He has risen to the top of NBA assistant coaching ranks. He has been a lead candidate for NBA head coaching jobs and has been instrumental in developing top-level NBA talent.

“Kevin will bring a new perspective, with an extensive NBA background to our program. He is a phenomenal fit at BYU. He is humble, fun and super intelligent. Cougar Nation is going to love getting to know Kevin.”

Young doesn’t have much of a connection to BYU, though he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which owns and operates the school.

He once coached under Dick Hunsaker at Utah Valley (2005-06) and was both an assistant and head coach for the Utah Flash (2009-11), which played at the UCCU Center in Orem.

Young was born in Salt Lake City and attended high school in Georgia. He played at Middle Georgia, a junior college, and then at Clayton State, also in Georgia. At the age of 23, Young’s first coaching job was in the Ireland Super League with the Shamrock Rovers Hoops.

He coached for eight years in the G-League with the Flash, the Iowa Energy and the Delaware 87ers before landing an assistant coaching job with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2016.

Young became an assistant for Monty Williams with the Phoenix Suns in 2020 and was elevated to associate head coach in 2021. As of last spring, Young was the highest-paid assistant coach in the NBA at $2 million annually and has interviewed for head coaching jobs with the Sixers, Wizards, Rockets, Raptors, Bucks and Suns. He was reportedly offered the Nets head coaching job but opted for BYU instead.

Young is married to Melissa Bailey and the couple have two sons and one daughter.

The hire offset the news earlier Tuesday that Farmington High alum Collin Chandler, one of the highest-rated recruits in BYU history, has decided to join Pope at Kentucky when he returns from his church mission next month.

Young will be very busy over the next few weeks re-recruiting current BYU players (five of which have entered the transfer portal) and hiring assistant coaches. He is expected to stay in his current position with the Suns for the extent of their playoff run. Phoenix begins the NBA playoffs as the No. 6 seed against No. 3 Minnesota on Saturday.

Tuesday, Ainge was asked about the hire at Utah Jazz end-of-season interviews.

“That’s a really good get for BYU,” Ainge said. “I know he was in the Brooklyn chase and Charlotte chase as well, and should have been (hired as head coach). Unbelievable. That’s fantastic.”

Smith sent out this message on X: “Congrats, KY! Those who know … know. Big get for BYU. This is a real dude for a special place.”


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