PHILADELPHIA >> Abington senior point guard Rob Young grew up in Roslyn, but he’s just as much a product of a Philly upbringing.
In an era where point guard throw up gaudy stat lines almost on a nightly basis and some barely even fit into the parameters of what the position is supposed to do, Young is in many ways a bit of a throwback. It’s not always easy to notice the things that he’s done all season to help the Galloping Ghosts to where they are, at least to outsiders.
But the Roslyn kid who got his education in the game playing in Philadelphia sure was noticeable Tuesday night at the Liacouras Center against Plymouth Whitemarsh.
“I was just feeling the energy from our crowd,” Young said in the bowels of the Temple arena. “Our pregame talks really got me ready for this game.”
Young’s line was solid all the way around with six points, five rebounds, seven assists and four steals in Abington’s closer-than-it-looked 71-67 6A semifinal win over PW, sending the team to its second District 1 final in the last three years. PW is a tough team for any point guard to play against, but Young was steady and in control all game and when Eric Dixon got hot in the second and third quarters, the senior fed the big man.
While he lives in Roslyn, Young spent plenty of time in the city as a kid, visiting with his grandmother in West Oak Lane. That’s where he started his athletic endeavors, playing both football and basketball in youth leagues in the city. With the West Oak Lane Wildcats, Young played all over the area, honing his skills.
“My dad grew up there, I played football for his old team and ended up playing basketball for them too,” Young said. “I started playing organized when I was 12 and came up until I got into AAU basketball, then I started going to different teams.”
Young hung up his football cleats in ninth grade, after playing as a wide receiver/defensive back on the Ghosts’ freshman team but realizing basketball was taking up most of his time and energy. A four-year varsity player with Abington, the guard started seeing playing time as a sophomore and was essentially the team’s sixth man last season.
Young, who started behind Dion Greene last year, relished his role coming off the bench, saying it was a good fit for him.
“I liked my role because I felt like I played better coming off the bench,” Young said. “This year, I had to be ready to take that role and start.”
This past summer, Young played AAU with the Philly Blaze, a local team where he was teammates with Cheltenham senior Tim Spencer, one of his close and longtime friends. Knowing a lot was riding on how he took over the point guard spot, Young worked hard to hone his decision-making and his jump shooting.
Both have paid off. He’s a reliable 3-point shooter, especially on kick-outs and his assist-to-turnover ratio is outstanding, rivaling the one Matt Penecale posted a few years back.
Young is a throwback in his playing style and also the outlier in Abington’s starting lineup. At 5-foot-9, he looks tiny compared the four other starters who measure between 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-9, plus 6-foot-6 sixth man Eric Dougherty.
Abington coach Charles Grasty isn’t big on team MVPs or things like that, but he’s the first to point out the kind of impact Young has made this year.
“That’s been Rob for us all year, he’s steady, he’s unheralded, he’s getting overlooked,” Grasty said. “I feel like he’s going to be a heck of a college player. He’s the type of player you have to have on your team. We get a lot of compliments on our pace and how we don’t get too erratic and a lot of it is because of Rob.”
Young would like to play in college, but so far he’s only gotten interest from the Pennsylvania College of Technology, also called PennTech, up in Williamsport at the Division III level. Grasty said he’s also been in touch with a couple of Division II schools about Young possibly walking on as a guy who knows his job and embraces it.
Grasty said Young fits the Philly stereotype of being tough and called the senior “super important,” not the kind of praise he gives out freely.
With a district final against Coatesville looming, Young’s steady hand will be pivotal on both ends of the court. He’ll likely defend the Red Raiders’ stud freshman Jhamir Brickus and also have to navigate the offense against Coatesville’s pressure defense.
As a deep reserve two years ago, Young really didn’t get to experience playing at Temple, so with the opportunity to return to his city roots in the game, he took advantage as a senior.
“It was very exciting,” Young said. “I didn’t play last time, so I was ready for the opportunity.”
Young said, aside from his improved jumpshot and decision-making, the biggest factor in his success has been slowing down on the floor and not over-thinking what to do. He just goes out and plays and it’s given the Ghosts exactly what they’ve needed.
His coach hopes someone else picks up on it as well.
“I hope some colleges look at it and realize they need a player like that,” Grasty said. “He’s been with us for four years and he makes a lot of the right plays. He’ll be a heck of a college player for whoever takes a chance on him.”
Top Photo: Abington’s Rob Young reaches in to steal the ball from Cheltenham’s Ahmad Bickley during their game on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)