Former NU coach to guide All-Stars
It just seems as though there is no way to get Kermit Young away from basketball.
He already has some great memories from playing at Montana State University (1961-’65) and then coaching for 36 years at the high school, college and pro levels, including seven seasons between 1976 and ’83 as head coach boys program at Nevada Union.
Memories? Just consider the four league championships and two Sac-Joaquin Section titles his teams at Nevada Union won – “I was fortunate enough to have a lot of great players” – and it’s easy to see there are plenty of those.
Though retired from education and still living in Grass Valley, Young is still coaching basketball these days and currently has the San Jose Skyrockets challenging for first-place in their American Basketball Association’s Ron Boone Division. Not only that, he will be courtside next Saturday, Feb. 11, as an assistant coach for the West in the ABA All-Star Game in Sunrise, Fla., at the BankAtlantic Center.
The Skyrockets took a 17-5 record into their home game Friday night against the Beijing Aoshen Olympian. The Skyrockets are at home again today for a 5:30 p.m. contest against the Las Vegas Rattlers at the San Jose Civic Auditorium.
“We have a good ballclub here, a real nice mix of players,” Young said. “This is a good league, very competitive. We’re 17-5 right now, but other than a couple of exceptions, all of our games have been decided by a differential of 10 points or less.”
One of those exceptions was Tuesday night, when the Skyrockets rolled to a 160-101 win against the Tijuana Dragons at the San Jose Civic Auditorium. The Skyrockets led 44-22 after one quarter and showed some balance with 11 different players scoring in double figures. Tijuana only had six players available for the game that night, but the Dragons do have one recognizeable name who has suited up this season – Dennis Rodman.
Another league name fans will recognize is former NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway, who now plays for the Florida Pit Bulls.
The Skyrockets have some talent of their own and will also be represented by point guard Todd Okeson at the All-Star game in Florida. Okeson was a standout for a University of Nevada team that advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2004.
“Todd is doing a good job for us,” Young said. “He can really shoot the ball and he’s a good defender.”
The Skyrockets also feature 6-foot-5 guard Jason Smith, a four-year starter in college at Mississippi who helped the Rebels beat Villanova in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Two other players of note include Lamar Castile, who entered the 2003 NBA draft after spending just two seasons at Community College of Beaver County in Pennsylvania (he averaged 32 points per game) and 7-footer Anwar Ferguson, who was in the Sacramento Kings’ training camp this past fall.
“Anwar Ferguson has a lot of potential,” Young said. “He stands 7-foot and he’s a 7-foot high jumper and he was the last player cut by the Kings two years ago. He just needs to develop a little more.”
The Skyrockets have all but locked up first-place in their division, and looking ahead to the playoffs in March, the Skyrockets are listed No. 5 overall in the ABA Power Rankings.
“The playoffs start on March 10 and the top eight teams get first-round byes, so we’re looking pretty good right now,” Young said.
Young was actually preparing to coach the Great Falls Cowboys of the All-American Professional Basketball League this season when the opportunity in San Jose opened up.
“I got a call from the league president, who asked if I’d be interested in coaching this new team, so I came down for for interview,” he said. “I still live in Grass Valley and my wife (Jill) still teaches at Union Hill School, so this has worked out very well.
“Coaching the San Jose Skyrockets and having the opportunity to work with owners Kazumi and James Hasegawa has been one the highlights of my career.”
Obviously, he is enjoying his life as a “retiree” right now.
“It’s a lot of fun, still,” Young said. “When it gets to be too much work, then I’ll know it’s time to get out.”
To contact sports editor Dave Price, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.
Who: Kermit Young, head coach of the San Jose Skyrockets
What: He will be an assistant coach for the West in the American basketball Association All-Star Game next Saturday, Feb. 11
Coaching: Young compiled a 315-99 record in 15 seasons as a high school coach at Nevada Union, Paso Robles and Santa Maria
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