The Wolverine

February 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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72 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2017 BY CHRIS BALAS M any people have to wait until retirement to travel the world and see a lot of what they've only read about — even more never get the opportunity to do so at any stage in life. Former Michigan center Chris Young is among the select few that not only got to experience it in his 20s, but also did it while making a living doing what he loved. For 12 years, from 2002‑14, Young shined as an American basketball player in Europe, spending most of his time in Belgium. He won champi‑ onships, earned league MVP honors as voted on by the coaches in 2010‑11, filled out from 225 pounds to more than 260 and became a dominant interior presence with range on his jump shot. His career was just desserts for a U‑M stint that, for whatever reason, proved to be almost a penance for the riches that would come his way. Young never had the team suc‑ cess he envisioned at Michigan from 1998‑2002. His teams finished with a winning record only once, when they went a game over .500 (15‑14) in the 1999‑2000 season, and the Wolverines were 0‑7 against rival Michigan State. When they had a team seemingly ready to compete with Spartans, the NCAA pulled the rug out from under them the day of the game. "We were very confident going into that game [in 2000] … for one we had Jamal Crawford, who was really com‑ ing into his own," Young recalled of the wing, now a 16‑year NBA vet‑ eran. "We knew we could beat them." But hours before the game, the NCAA let U‑M know there might be eligibility issues with Crawford. He didn't play and would never suit up for the Wolverines again. "That took the wind out of our sails," Young said. "It was devastat‑ ing. We hung with them for quite a while, but then they pulled away [for a 20‑point win]." It was one of many painful experi‑ ences for Young at Michigan, but his adversity would be rewarded. He won U‑M's Bill Buntin MVP Award in 2001‑02, setting career bests in 16 statistical categories. He averaged a career‑high 11.4 points and 5.9 re‑ bounds per game, led the team in blocked shots (40) in 31.6 minutes per contest and was also the team's Iron Man Award winner, playing every game of his U‑M career and starting the last 57 contests. He also captured the Thad Garner Leadership Award. Young's career game came on the national stage, a 104‑83 loss to Duke in 2002 in which he scored 25 points against a team of future NBA stand‑ outs, outdueling one of them in Car‑ los Boozer. He earned Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski's praise afterward — and as if to prove it was no fluke, he turned around in his first professional season in Belgium and hung 25 on the Devils again. "That game sticks out to me — it feels kind of selfish because we kind of got our doors blown off that game — but what's funny is that was my senior year, the first week of December," he recalled. "The very next year Coach K took a Duke team to London when I was playing in Belgium, and we went to London and played against them. We almost beat them, but here they were passing, cutting and all that stuff. We had only been together two weeks or so … I didn't know my teammates, they didn't know me. "But Coach K came up to me and laughed about it, and I knew Wojo [former Duke player and then‑as‑ sistant coach Steve Wojciechowski] from before that. He came up and said, 'Man, can we get rid of you? I'm tired of seeing you!'" That wouldn't be the last time he   WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Chris Young Is Back Home After Excelling Overseas Young won U-M's Bill Buntin MVP Award as a senior in 2001-02 after setting personal bests in 16 statistical categories, including averaging a career-high 11.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS

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