Championship Dreams

By Jayhlon Young

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As I’m about to kick off my first season here at Memphis, I can’t help but think about what it took to get here.

The fact I’m here is actually a one-in-a-million opportunity.

Forget the odds of becoming a DI athlete.

My story is an uncanny one.

Memphis is my fourth stop. I kicked off my college career at Grambling State before joining Baton Rouge Community College and UCF after.

All three schools gave me a ton of different experiences and memories, and they all led me to this moment right here at Memphis.

Now, playing for the Tigers, we aim for the stars — a national championship.

The early days

When I was kid, it all started so innocently — just playing basketball and football, competing, and having fun.

In fact, I was at first thinking of going with football over basketball.

However, around the seventh grade, I realized my skill set was tailor-made for the sport. I started to love the game more, and watching guys like Allen Iverson, Kyrie Irving, and John Wall inspired me to work on my craft.

In high school, I hit my first speed bump.

I got moved up to varsity, which was awesome, but I also saw a lot less playing time.

How could I get better if I don’t play? Am I just an in-between player? Too good for JV but not good enough to play varsity?

It was frustrating but part of the growing pains. It wouldn’t be the last time a circumstance and role would change for me, but behind every bad experience, a lesson and a blessing are in store.

By junior year, I became the starting guard and was back in the grove.

And just when I thought things couldn’t get better, Coach Mike B entered my life.

Mike was a travel coach, and he really taught me the game. I learned more about film and what it took to be a professional and understand the sport at a higher level. I absorbed his knowledge like a sponge, and thanks to him, I started to reach my potential.

He will always be my coach, mentor, and teacher and is still someone I use as a resource to this day.

Growing pains

When it was time to start college ball, I joined Grambling State, and I thought I would be ‘the guy.’

I was excited about taking the next level of my career and leading a college team.

But that’s not what happened.

I redshirted, and I started having doubts.

Is this where I want to be? Is this the best place for me?

After some thinking, and being stuck at home when COVID hit, I decided to transfer to Baton Rouge Community College and play JUCO ball, starting the 2020-2021 season.

I really enjoyed my time there and started making quite a bit of progress. Not just on the court but off the court, too. My teammates began looking up to me, and I took on more responsibility.

Not all progress is linear, you know?

And after my two years at the JUCO level, I transferred to UCF.

It was a big change, not going to lie. You had to be precise at this level. Something that took me a while to get used to.

But once the season started, it was awesome.

At UCF, I really started to strive. I had a great bond with my teammates and coaches, giving me a ton of advice and teaching me a lot about the game.

After a great season there, I felt like I was ready to take a swing at the highest of achievements — to compete for a national title.

And I felt like my best chance of going after that was with Memphis.

All three schools gave me a ton of different experiences and memories, and they all led me to this moment right here at Memphis. Now, playing for the Tigers, we aim for the stars — a national championship.

At Memphis

Frankly, I was shocked when I got the call from Coach Penny Hardaway, talking to me about the opportunity to join Memphis.

I mean, Penny was one of my idols growing up; he still is, actually.

He played in the league, knows what it takes, and played in the 90s, one of the best eras of basketball.

Once I got that call, it was a wrap!

I was all-in because I had complete confidence in Coach Hardaway, and with his guidance and leadership, I knew I could reach my full potential.

Joining Memphis means being a part of something bigger than myself.

I play to compete, and the team we have can play for a national title, and that’s what drives me. We can do something special, and I’m prepared to put in the work and get it done.

For now, it’s all about getting better day in and day out.

It was fun to reflect today on my journey and how far I’ve come, but it’s onward and upward.

If I just focus on getting a little better each day and string those days together, I know I can play my part in reaching our ultimate goal.

Hopefully, come April, we’ll have made Memphis proud.