ARKANSAS NEWS BUREAU FAYETTEVILLE — BJ Young gave teammates and coaches hints that he would return to Arkansas for his sophomore season.
They weren’t sure, though.
Not until the second-team and freshman All-Southeastern Conference guard made his decision to return to school official when he was recognized for his All-SEC honors at the men’s basketball banquet Monday night.
“I just want to be first team next year,” Young said, prompting a loud cheer from the crowd of around 170 Arkansas fans in attendance in the Broyles Complex. “Hopefully make the tournament as a team. Oh, yeah. I’m coming back for another year, too.”
Young announced his return the night before before the Tuesday deadline for underclassmen to pull their name out of the NBA Draft. “My gut always told me that he would come back,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “He’s had a pretty impressive first year and I think the best basketball is even in front of him … He can get in the weight room and get a little stronger, but now he’s got a feel for what it is to play at the Division 1 level.”
Young averaged a team-high 15.3 points and shot better than 50 percent from the field as a freshman, but decided he wanted to try to improve the numbers.
“It was a great experience,” Young said. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come back. I enjoyed school so much. If I hadn’t enjoyed school so much, I probably would have looked forward to going to the NBA. I liked college basketball and I love the fan base.”
Young announced his decision hours after tweeting, “man in so confused right now” Monday afternoon.
“I was a little confused earlier today,” Young said. “You get a lot of outside, inside feedback on people telling you what to do. So it makes the process just a little bit more confusing and complicated … It was a pretty tough decision, but I just enjoyed school a lot and told my parents I wasn’t ready to grow up yet. “I just want to still be a kid and they understood where I was coming from.”
The 6-foot-3, 175-pounder was projected by most draft analysts as a late-first round or early-second round draft pick if he entered this year, but was tabbed a potential lottery pick if he returned to school and entered the 2013 draft.
“I just wanted to come back and try to get to a national championship,” Young said. “Have another season with more experience and just get a lot of stuff under my belt that I didn’t get in year one.”
Bolstered by Young’s decision to stay for his sophomore season, the Hogs will return six of their top seven scorers and Marshawn Powell, the former All-SEC forward who tore his ACL after two games last season.
“When you start putting other pieces to put along with him, you put a healthy Marshawn Powell with him,” Anderson said. “Not only that, you get a year of experience. You expect them to be better and him to be better.”