By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
When new Goshen College men’s basketball coach Neal Young came to campus to interview for the position, he already knew his way around campus.
Young was a Maple Leaf assistant for three seasons under former head coach Gary Chupp, serving as Chupp’s top assistant.
For the past two seasons, Young has been an assistant at NCAA Div. II Lewis University
Goshen College athletic director Tim Demant said Young is regarded as one of the best young coaches in the Midwest.
“This is a very exciting day for Maple Leaf basketball, for our athletic department, and for Goshen College as a whole,” Demant said. “Having previously worked with Neal during his first stint at GC, I was very impressed with his work ethic, professionalism, his knowledge of the game and his ability to recruit.”
In fact, Young had a major role in recruiting all 13 players on what was one of the Maple Leafs’ most sucessful teams in recent seasons: The 2011-12 squad, which reached as high as No. 12 in the NAIA Division II poll that season.
It’s that prior experience in Goshen that will help Young hit the ground running, the new coach said Tuesday night.
“This was where my first college job was,” Young said. “So it’s a bit of a homecoming.”
Young has always wanted to be a head coach. “I just didn’t think it was going to happen so soon,” he added.
First on the agenda for the new Maple Leaf mentor — after a meeting Monday with his players — is finishing up the 2013-14 recruiting class.
“We’d like to go out and get at least two players who can come in and help us right away,” Young said.
Goshen Colege fans and the rest of the Crossroads League, Young said, can expect an exciting brand of basketball at Gunden Gymnasium.
“We want to play at a fast pace, and make teams adapt to what we’re doing,” Young said.
While Young was on staff during the 2009-10 season, the Maple Leafs tied the school record for most conference wins in a season (nine) and finished the season ranked in the RPI top 10 for the first time in school history. He also coached MCC Player of the Year Errick McCollum, who ended his career as the program’s all-time leading scorer.
McCollum raved about Young when informed of his former coach’s hiring.
“From my time at Goshen, I got to know Coach Young, the person and the coach and I know from my experience he is what Goshen College looks for in terms of an ambassador on and off the court,” McCollum said. “He has the unique ability to relate/ approach student-athletes from different backgrounds, ethnicities, incomes, etc … He played a major role in my success and maturity as an athlete and a man. I am proud to see my alma mater hire a man of such outstanding character, who also happens to be a terrific coach.”
McCollum added, “I’ve been playing basketball all my life, including professionally in Europe for three years now and I know a good coach when I see one. Coach Young is that guy.”