New Heights' Young joins FIU staff

As he guided the highly successful New Heights AAU program the last couple of years, Athletic Director Kimani Young couldn't stop thinking about the college game.

He had previously served as the video coordinator/team manager for St. John's for one season before leaving following the death of his wife.

"I always had an eye on getting back to college for the last couple of years," Young said.

Young will make his return this upcoming season as he has accepted a job as an assistant at Florida International, joining new coach Richard Pitino. Young said he will no longer be the athletic director for New Heights, and a successor has not been named yet.

"It was tough to leave my family and friends and colleagues in New York City," Young said. "The natural progression for me and my coaching career was this move."

Young had joined St. John's for the 2008-09 season, but left the college ranks after his wife, Sharette Dixon, died of cardiac arrest at the age of 38 on March 23, 2009.

With three kids to raise -- two boys and a girl -- Young focused all his attention on his children. He returned as the athletic director of New Heights, helping guide the city's premier talent. Over the past few years, there had been talk of joining some local college staffs, but no official offers were ever made.

In 2009, he met Pitino at a team camp in Gainesville, and the two developed a relationship. When Pitino was hired to replace Isaiah Thomas at Florida International, he reached out to Young. He accepted the offer more than a week ago, but the official announcement was not made until Monday.

"I was excited and appreciative of the opportunity to join him and his staff at FIU," Young said. "I really admire his enthusiasm and drive to rebuild that program. That made this opportunity even more attractive."

Young, who had a stellar career playing at UTEP, will be heading to Florida in the next couple of weeks and will hit the road recruiting in July. In August, he will move his family to the area. He said it was a tough decision to uproot his family.

"I think it's the next big step for us," Young said. "Moving to South Beach isn't so bad. Once we get situated down there, I found the right school and the right situation for the kids, I think everything is going to be alright."

While his previous job with St. John's involved more administrative duties, Young will be tasked with trying to attract premier talent to help turn around Florida International. He wants to rely on the relationships he developed coaching AAU to help him on the recruiting trail.

"That's going to be a strength," Young said. "In terms of recruiting, just having those relationships and the facts that I have watched those guys since a young age. It's a great point of reference for their talent and for their abilities."