Alumnus Builds Winning Basketball Program at Alabama College
By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau
Barely 72 hours after coaching in the NCAA Division II men’s basketball championship game, GCU alumnus Danny Young was back on the road, looking for good players.
Judging from what he has accomplished in nine seasons as head coach at the University of Montevallo, he’ll find them. Under Young, Montevallo has advanced to postseason play seven times, reaching the Elite Eight three times.
The most recent appearance ended in a 72-65 defeat last Saturday to a Western Washington University team that had opened tournament play with a seven-point victory over GCU.
“We had our chances,” Young said by phone Tuesday, lamenting his team’s poor shooting (37.5 percent) in the title game. “It was a great run.”
The 29-8 season included a 79-72 semifinal upset of 2011 winner Bellarmine University (Ky.), which had been favored to win another championship.
Montevallo, a school of about 3,000 students located 30 miles from Birmingham, Ala., turned out five busloads of fans for three Elite Eight games at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Ky., about 500 miles away.
“People gave up their spring break to watch us,” Young said. “We probably had 300 to 400 people there.”
Just as impressive is the way that the Montevallo program has flourished under Young without many home-grown players. This season’s roster included only one player from Alabama. Represented were faraway places such as Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Fayetteville, N.C.; Arlington, Texas, and the Virgin Islands.
Young said that the presence of nine Division I schools in Alabama makes it difficult to compete for the attention of local talent. Wherever he goes, however, he looks for the same thing in players.
“Toughness is a big part of what we try to recruit,” he said. “That and good character. We want kids who want to buy in and want to get their degree.”
A degree from GCU wasn’t in the initial plans of Young, 47, who is from tiny Duncan, Ariz. He briefly attended Eastern Arizona College before going to Northern Arizona University and then transferring to GCU when his father became ill.
He played two years at GCU in the late 1980s, first for John Shumate and then for Paul Westphal. His father died during his first year on the west Phoenix campus.
“He was all I had at the time,” Young said of his father.
Westphal made an enduring impression at a critical time in his life.
“He was a great player’s coach,” said Young, who later became an assistant coach at GCU under Leighton McCrary for three years. He also coached under Mike Carey, now the women’s head coach at West Virginia University, when the two were at Salem (W.Va.) International University.
That pedigree plus connections all over the country have added up to a 206-87 record for him at Montevallo — a school known for producing teachers, Young said, noting at least one similarity to GCU.
Young said he was back on the GCU campus last fall and received a tour from Athletics Director Keith Baker. The transformation blew him away, particularly GCU Arena.
“That thing is amazing,” Young said of the Arena. “Everybody said (the campus) had changed. I was so impressed with everything.”
Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.