Q&A With Aaron Young

Jesse: What is your full name and where are you from?

Aaron David Young, Born in Phoenix, Arizona! Dad is a kiwi – Mum is from Texas..

Jesse: Why did you choose the game of basketball?

Aaron: Growing up in Phoenix, I loved watching the Suns.. Jason Kidd, Charles Barkley and my favourite player.. Kevin Johnson! He was a KILLER!!!

Jesse: What schools did you attend and what were your achievements and highlights as a player?

Aaron: When I was 6, my family and I moved to Kuwait where I attended the American School of Kuwait for 6 years.. While living in Kuwait, Football (Soccer) was my biggest passion.. Wasn’t until I moved to NZ when I started playing basketball competitively.

The footwork that I developed through Soccer helped me transition into Basketball seamlessly. Moved to NZ when I was 12 and attended Rangitoto College for my high school years. Our best finish at Nationals was 4th where we matched up with St Pats in the Semis.. I was tasked to mark Brook R for the game and remember thinking I was going to be the guy to shut him down.. He went for a comfortable 25+ and won by 20. My shining moment was gone.. but
now I get to coach him and make him play defence, so it all evens out… eventually.

Jesse: You are currently the Head Coach of the Auckland Huskies, What other coaching roles have you had over the years and what makes this new role so special?

Aaron: I started my coaching journey with Judd Flavell, assisting him with the Breakers academy back in 2013-14.. That led me to a role with the Breakers where Dean Vickerman brought me on as a Video Analyst – I continued that role until 2019, working under Kevin Braswell & Paul Henare along the way.

Also being involved in multiple NZU17 & U19 cycles over the past 4 years has been a massive part of my development as a coach, with travelling experiences in the Philippines, China, New Caledonia and Argentina. I took over the Basketball program at St Kentigern College in 2016, where I continue to try and build a winning culture that’s sustainable long term.

My role with the Huskies is special because of the people that are involved. I have great support across the board, with Matt L as GM, Sonny Tuaputa & Josiah Maama as my assistants, Logan Botica – S&C coach, Carl Murray – manager, Trent Tagaloa our physio, Andrew Horrocks – video coordinator, Martin Gan – up and coming coach, Pip Thomas – Sports Psychology and so much more.. I feel very grateful to have such high character people involved, makes my role simple and straight forward..

Jesse: What made you decide to become a Coach?

Aaron: When I played in high school, I was always interested in the tactical side of the game, building relationships, helping those around me get better and keen to learn as much as possible. I was realistic with where I was at as a player, but loved the game, so wanted to stay involved any way I could..

That led to me doing some work as a Junior breakers coach where Hayden Allen ran the show with the Breakers in-school coaching program. Coaching with Tony, Chanel
Pompalier, Norm taught me how important it was to give back, and how much kids enjoyed the game. Through my role with Junior Coaching, I decided I wanted to climb the ranks and start coaching at a higher level.

Jesse: You are a role model for young men and women, what advice do you have for them getting into basketball?

Aaron: There are so many things.. But I think building your mindset and getting comfortable with being
uncomfortable is key. Denzel Washington said.. “Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship” I love that quote..

I’ve seen so many young athletes that are highly talented, but can’t make clear cut decisions in the run of play, simply because they are unfit. Fitness is one thing that should never be wavered. It’s just a mindset and discipline if you want to be great. If you ain’t fit, then manage your expectations.. Because you ain’t going to make it!

I would also say.. everyone has different skill sets – so how does YOUR game translate to the next level? Being a great role player is so underrated and not very appealing, but it will get you PAID!!

One of my favourite players to watch in the league right now is Bruce Brown from the
Nets.. he plays his role to perfection, and started off as a low minutes guy, and now he is contributing at a high level on a championship-contending team with KD, Kyrie and Harden.

Don’t strive to be a role player, but having the ability to adapt to different coaches and different roles needs to be talked about more, That comes with putting your ego to rest, being realistic with where you’re at today, and amplifying your role to help the TEAM (not yourself). And in doing that, you will play more minutes. And if you play more, your stock will grow.

Jesse: What has been the ultimate highlight so far in your Coaching career?

Aaron: Winning 2019 Secondary School Nationals with Saint Kent’s was special! It was an unbelievable journey from where we started.. 4 years in the making, and we experienced every emotion along the way.

Jesse: Who has been your biggest influence in basketball and why?

Aaron: My parents – their support has meant everything to me. They have never missed a game and I will never take that support and love for granted.

Jesse: Who is the ultimate women’s basketball player in New Zealand?

Aaron: Ella Fotu!! Have to go with family first.. And she’s just getting started which is the scary part!

Jesse: Who is the ultimate mens basketball player in New Zealand?

Aaron: Have to go with the Brosefs !!!
Shea ili – Best defender in the ANBL
Reuben TeRangi – the Young Vet (Highest IQ I’ve ever been around) Isaac Fotu – The most dominant post player in Europe

Jesse: In terms of your Coaching career, what would be the pinnacle for you?

Aaron: I would love to be a Head Coach in the ANBL for a long time – I have followed the league since I moved to NZ and to see the growth over the years, it’s pretty cool! Such an underrated league when it comes to talent, coaching and high-quality hoops! You see how tough the league is when high-level international players come over and struggle to perform..

Jesse: What’s the best pair of basketball shoes you have owned?

Aaron: Jordan Oreos 4’s – Casual Run (when Harden was with Nike) are the best playing shoe ever created IMO.. IYKYK!

Jesse: Using basketball as a tool, what life lessons can you instill in the players you coach?

Aaron: Discipline.. If you want success, there must be sacrifices along the way. That goes hand in hand with anything you want to conquer in life. Staying present – if you’re thinking about the turnover you just had or the foul that wasn’t called, you’re putting yourself in a position to miss the next opportunity. In life, if you spend too much time dwelling on the past or trying to anticipate what will happen in the future, you’re missing what’s important, and that’s the moment right in front of you.

Jesse: What has been the ultimate highlight in your basketball career?

Aaron: The day I decided to stop playing and transition into coaching.

Jesse: How do you mentally prepare yourself for a game?

I find working out my players just before the game really helps. Takes my mind off the tactical side of things and helps me focus on what’s important, which is the PROCESS! At St Kent’s, I coach juniors on a Friday afternoon right before our games.. It reminds me of what’s important about coaching, and that is giving back..

Jesse: Who is the G.O.A.T?

Aaron: MJ.

**However, if Lebron wins another 2 with the Lakers.. And then wins one with his son Bronny, AND passes Kareem on points.. Then we need to have another conversation haha!

Jesse: Can basketball in New Zealand be improved?

Aaron: There’s always room for improvement in every aspect of life, you can always get better. I think what we need to do a better job of is supporting each other.. And put the kids first!

Jesse: What is your favourite food?

Aaron: Favourite meal – Mum’s lasagna Undefeated!!!!

But Mexican is my GO-TO!! Tamales, Tex-Mex, Enchiladas.. ALL THAT!!

Jesse: The season tips off off tonight! are the boys prepared?

Aaron: We have had a great pre-season. Couldn’t be more proud of the guys and the work they have put in! Their commitment from day one has been big time, just looking forward to it all coming together. Feels like we are building something special here in the 09!

#BuildTheCulture 🏀

Published by Jesse Wallis

Basketball Journalist

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