Centennial High School is coming off an excellent season, after winning last year's 5A State Title in impressive fashion - defeating Gilbert High School, 46-39, in the state final. A lot has changed for Centennial since the end to the season, as David Grace has now taken over the helm for the program. After also losing some key members to last year's team through graduation, the stage is now set for 6-foot-5 rising senior forward Emery Young to come into his own and lead next year's group back to the top of the 5A Standings.
Centennial High School is now one of the state's top basketball programs consistently, as the program has won many games over the past several years, including a state title. Former successful Division-I assistant coach David Grace now takes over this winning program, after replacing former Head Coach Randy Lavender, who walked away from the program after the season. While it is amazing that Centennial didn't do everything possible to keep Lavender, David Grace fell into the school's lap this spring, and he now will return to the state of Arizona to coach an AIA high school team. Grace previously coached South Mountain High School to a State Championship in 2007, and he also began his Arizona coaching career at Trevor Browne High School in Glendale.
Over the past few seasons, previous senior guard Jake Lifgren (Point Loma University) came up very big for Centennial, as he was the driving force for the basketball program for several seasons, and had an excellent high school career for himself. Now the time has come for Emery Young to take the bull by the horns and take over the reigns for this program. Young is coming off a strong junior season, where he provided excellent support to Lifgren last season en route to helping his program win it all. Young did all of the intangibles for last year's team - rebounding, defending, playing several positions and simply competing hard every night. Young averaged good numbers during his junior season - pouring in 13.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per/game. He will be expected to raise those numbers during his senior season, as he now returns as the leading force for Head Coach David Grace.
Young has played this spring with the Compton Magic, and will continue to do so this summer, as he looks to gain maximum college exposure to college coaches this club season. Currently, Young has a nice offer from Northern Illinois to his credit, and he is still looking to gain more offers over the summer.
Young should still have another major growth spurt in him, since he comes from very good basketball bloodlines. Emery's father, Rey Young, is 6-foot-11 and played at Fresno State University. Father Rey Young also played with Compton Magic club organizer Etop Udo-Ema at Laverne College in the late 1980's, and the two have been best friends ever since.
Emery will look to come into his own now as a player and a college prospect. He has excellent vertility as a player and as a defender, where he is able to guard multiple positions on the basketball court - his best asset as a player. Young absolutely loves the game and has excellent work ethic as a player. This work ethic is what benefits him over his opposition, as he is always playing the game and also working on his game. Over time, he will realize his true potential as a result. Young is at his best as a small forward, although he is able to play as a 2, 3 or defend 4's on the court. He is a good ball handler and passer, and is also an active rebounder. Young has a good shooting stroke with range. His three-pointer late in the 5A State Championship game helped lead his team to a state championship title.
Emery will have his most success as he develops his mid-range game over time, and is able to post up and score from mid-range consistently. He does this well now, but will improve with improved physical strength and explosiveness gained from natural maturity.
Emery Young's best years are still well ahead of him, but he is a winner, and has done what it has taken the past several years to help lead his high school program to the top of the 5A Division. He will now do what it takes to elevate his game and make sure Centennial High School has a chance to repeat as 5A State Champs. Centennial does return a lot of experience from last season, which will help David Grace in his transition as the new head coach, but the consistent and strong play from Young will be vital to next year's team's success. I look for Young and his Centennial teammates to have another excellent season.