Utah Jazz: Draft prospect knows tough
Pitt's Young would bring 'nasty' streak Jazz brass openly covet
Barton Glasser, Deseret News
Coach Jerry Sloan suggested during the Jazz's recent NBA playoff series with the Los Angeles Lakers that he wished his players would show a little more nastiness.
Sam Young knows nasty.
Or at least he did a month or so ago in Toronto, where Young — who auditioned Saturday morning in Utah and who is ESPN.com's projected pick for the Jazz at No. 20 overall in the first round of Thursday night's NBA Draft — was impaled by part of a pole.
A vertical jump measuring device, to be precise.
Yet there was the 6-foot-6, 222-pound Young, working out again just a few days later.
"When he showed up (late in May) at the (pre-draft) combine (in Chicago), and everybody knew what happened to him in Toronto," Jazz player personnel vice president Walt Perrin said, "I think he went up in terms of toughness in a lot of people's eyes."
Not that the senior swingman from the University of Pittsburgh — a 24-year-old with a herky-jerky shot but a tendency to play with tenacity on defense that the Jazz sorely lack — was ever considered soft.
"I think Pittsburgh is one of the toughest teams in probably the most physical conference (the Big East) in America," said Perrin, who added that Young shot the ball "fairly well" in Saturday's workout. "So, yeah. He's got to be tough."
ESPN.com draft specialist Chad Ford concurs, writing on his mock draft that "... Young is the type of tough veteran the Jazz love. He's ready to step in and play right now and give them minutes at both the 2 (shooting guard) and the 3 (small forward)."
Before Young could step in anywhere, though, something had to be pulled out.
It was the metal pole attachment.
"We were testing verticals, and I jumped up on one leg, and I came down on the knob on the vertical pole," Young, who'll be in Sacramento today for his 10th and final pre-draft workout, said in describing what he deemed to be both "a crazy experience" and "a freak accident."
"It went inside my arm," he added, proudly showing off an ugly looking scar near the inner biceps portion of his left arm. "It was stuck in my arm for an hour."
That's because the metal piece was two-sided, and Young was advised against even thinking about pulling it out himself.
In fact, he couldn't even immediately return the ground.
Instead, Young had to hang on the vertical pole — because it was still connected to the metal part that was in his arm — until Raptors personnel could help ease him down.
"They were just like, 'Uh ... that's never happened,' " Young said. "I think they (were) a little (more scared) than I was."
Paramedics arrived with a chain saw, and he was separated from most — but not all — of the 14-foot pole.
"One guy was holding it on (one) end, and another guy was holding it on (the other) end, and the knob was stuck in my arm, and I was holding it from the middle ... and as they (were) cutting it, it was rattling in my arm," Young said. "Once they cut it off, I had to walk to the ambulance, and as the ambulance was leaving out, he was going over speed bumps and stuff, so I was trying to hold it steady, but it was pulling on my skin."
The metal attachment was still stuck, tugging on now-torn muscle.
As he waited for emergency personnel to respond, Young — who suggested he decided to return to Pitt for his senior season largely because he didn't want it to end with a mere Sweet 16 exit — contemplated consequences.
Fingers, fortunately, moved — so he sensed, thankfully, that there would be no more permanent damage.
"It went in probably about 2 inches," Young said. "It was a millimeter away from hitting a nerve, three millimeters way from hitting a blood vessel.
"So, I was pretty lucky."
At the hospital, pain-killing drugs were dispensed and a doctor was able to extract the intruding metal.
Before that, though, Young had to endure reaction akin to something straight out of an episode of "E.R."
"They (were) looking at me like, 'What the ... heck.' They didn't know what to think," he said. "The nurses told the doctor about the situation, and he ran over there, and he looked at me, and he was like, 'Oh, boy.' " Three days later, determined not to let the bizarre incident sidetrack pursuit of his preferred profession, and safely out of Canada without setting off any metal detectors at the airport, Young was in Indianapolis, somehow working out for the Indiana Pacers.
"I put a wrap on it," he said, "and was ready to go."
Case closed? Pretty much.
"I think just my game overall, as far as watching me play, and then being in the Pitt program — Pitt's known for tough guys — and then that situation, and then just watching my workouts — it's obvious," Young said, "that toughness is one of my strong points."
And the Jazz, he added, are "a tough team ... so I'd definitely like to come in and try to fit in and make Utah home."
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