SCHENECTADY — The way Daquon Young describes it, something just clicked.
“I was helping a few AAU teams, and I started thinking I’ve got to do more for the school I played at,” the Schenectady High School graduate said. “Maybe I can connect with a kid.”
So just before last season began, Young found himself back at the Pat Riley Sports Center, the home of his Schenectady varsity basketball teams that put together a 41-7 record, won a Big 10 championship and made a pair of Section II final four appearance.
“I came in and [Schenectady varsity coach] Eric Loudis welcomed me with open arms,” Young said. “He knew what I was there for, and embraced it.”
Now in his second season as a volunteer coach, Young serves as a sounding board for Loudis and an instructor and mentor for the school’s varsity and junior varsity players.
“Having it come from a guy who came from this setting means a lot more,” Loudis said. “He sees it. He knows it. He gets it. He grew up in these neighborhoods. He went to this school. I had a different upbringing. They can relate to him.”
One of Young’s messages is to stay diligent in school. It’s something he failed to do while taking a difficult math class his senior year. His teacher was Loudis.
“He ran into an attendance issue, and did not pass,” Loudis said. “He doesn’t want kids to make the same mistakes.”
Young did graduate from Schenectady in the summer of 2006 after making up that math class.
“There’s no situation on or off the court I haven’t been through,” the 29-year-old Young said.
Young played his two varsity season at Schenectady under coach Mark Sausville, with whom he clashed. Today, Young considers Sausville a friend.
“I look back now and see where he [Sausville] was coming from, but at that time, I had an attitude,” Young said. “I thought of myself as a scorer. In the offseason, that’s what I did. He wanted me to run the team. Make no mistakes. Get the team involved.”
Young realizes now that his attitude was a distraction to the team.
“I tell the kids, ‘This team doesn’t need that,’ ” Young said. “ ‘I was in your shoes. I’ve been there, trust me.’ ”
Loudis does in matters away from the court, and on it.
“It’s nice to throw things off him,” Loudis said. “I like to hear what he has to say. If I’m thinking about doing something it’s, ‘What do you think? What would you do?’ ”
Young said he was hesitant at first, but is now comfortable voicing his views.
“I give my honest opinion,” said Young, whose brother, Sequon, was a member of Schenectady’s 2001 state championship team. “He’ll ask, ‘What do you think?’ and I’ll say ‘I think this will work right now or I don’t think this will work.’ ”
Those conversations often have to do with defensive structure. Though Schenectady can show multiple looks, the 3-2 zone is a Loudis staple and a formation Young has studies in depth.
“Eric has had me working with the eighth-grade travel team and the modified team on how to play the 3-2 and how to do traps,” Young said. “It makes me feel good that he would give me that responsibility. We’re trying to get the kids doing the same things all the way up through the program.”
Away from the program, Young works one-on-one with youths in the Northeast Parent & Child Society.
“He genuinely wants to be around kids and help kids,” Schenectady varsity basketball assistant John Miller said.