After more than a decade serving as an assistant coach under Steve Pikiell, both at Stony Brook and Rutgers, Jay Young is becoming a head coach of his own. The news was first reported that Young was being hired by Fairfield by Jon Rothstein and Jerry Carino confirmed his initial report soon after.
Fairfield confirmed Young’s hiring late Wednesday morning:
We're pleased to announce that Jay Young, a respected veteran within college basketball, joins our University community as the 13th head coach of the @StagsMensBball program. Jay, welcome to Stag Country! https://t.co/QmhcdNcXya #FairfieldU pic.twitter.com/tFkhGJocJ5— Fairfield University (@FairfieldU) April 3, 2019
The Connecticut school plays in the competitive mid-major MAAC and Young replaces Sydney Johnson, who had five winning campaigns in 8 years, but bottomed out this past season with a 9-22 record. Fairfield last went to the NCAA Tournament 22 years ago.
Young was considered a leading candidate due to his reputation as an excellent basketball coach and connection to Fairfield athletic director Paul Schlickmann. The two worked at Stony Brook at the same time from 2005-2010, where Schlickmann served as Executive Associate Director of Athletics/COO. Many people around the Stony Brook program were surprised he was passed over three years ago when Pikiell left for Rutgers, but now Young is getting his shot that is well deserved and considered by some as long overdue. While he served as a head coach at Division II New Haven more than a decade ago, the jump to leading a mid-major program is a great step in his career.
From a Rutgers perspective, while Pikiell had hoped Young would one day get this opportunity, in the short term this is a major loss. His contributions to the rebuilding of the program the past three years have been significant. He specifically coached the big men and made strides with many of them. The development of Shaq Doorson from little used reserve to a strong defense and capable Big Ten starter was impressive. Grad Transfer CJ Gettys had the best season of his career at Rutgers despite the step up in competition and Deshawn Freeman developed into a legitimate Big Ten player. Eugene Omoruyi was the most improved player on the roster the past two seasons as well.
In addition, Young ran the defense for Rutgers and was a big reason the team was much improved in this area the first two seasons under Pikiell. With four freshman this past season that were learning how to play on the defensive end at the high major level, they all got better from October to March. Rutgers finished in the top 50 in Division I in defensive efficiency the past two seasons and Young’s toughness rubbed off on the program’s identity.
Young leaves Myles Johnson as a parting gift, as he discovered the Southern California native on the recruiting trail and was the lead recruiter for him. Don’t underestimate how much Young helped Johnson develop these past two years, after being injured and lightly recruited his senior season of high school ball. The redshirt freshman showed his massive potential on the court this past season and is poised to start at center for years to come.
Steve Pikiell will now do something for the first time since arriving at Rutgers, replace an assistant coach. Who he decides on to fill the void left by Young will be a critical factor in continuing to make progress in the rebuilding of Rutgers basketball.
For a list of potential candidates, click here.