After settling in at new school, senior prospect Tiara Young looks to elevate new teammates
Tiara Young's steps were uneasy.
After seven years at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana, Young and her family moved to the Baton Rouge area, which meant a new school -- a big new school -- called Walker High this fall.
At Evangel, there were 350 high school students. There are more than 1,100 students at Walker. The campus at Walker is far more expansive, adding to Young's cold feet.
But a whole lot of warmth was on the way.
"The basketball players took me in from the first day I got there," Young said. "They showed me where my classes were, and I just got it after that."
It was both hospitable and wise behavior from the Walker players. Young, after all, has the talent to help them win.
The undeclared 5-foot-10 senior combo guard is the No. 26 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 for the 2019 class. She averaged 27.2 points and 12.0 rebounds last season while leading Evangel to the Division I state semifinals.
Kenny Carswell, who has coached her since she joined his Louisiana Lightning AAU program when she was in seventh grade, said Young is a "special" talent with elite athleticism.
"She has a great midrange game," Carswell said. "If she can improve the range on her shot, it will be tough to stop her."
Young became a varsity starter during the third game of her seventh-grade season. She has played 154 varsity games the past five years, averaging 21.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals.
She was first-team Class 5A all-state in 2016, first-team All-Louisiana in 2017 and the 5A player of the year in 2018. She was also the Shreveport Times' All-City Player of the Year the past two seasons. She scored a career-high 46 points in a game her sophomore season.
Young accomplished all of that while playing for her mom, Meoka, at Evangel. But Meoka is now an assistant to Korey Arnold at Walker.
"I was sad to leave [Evangel], but it was time for a change since my mom wasn't going to coach me in college," Young said. "I need to get pushed by a different coach."
Arnold is sure to do just that since he runs a full-court, trapping 1-2-2 defense that differs from the man-to-man tactics used at Evangel. In addition, after playing more point guard at Evangel, Young is being sent to the wing by Arnold.
"We're pretty excited," said Arnold, who will get to coach Young in Walker's first exhibition game on Oct. 20. "We have been one of the top programs in the state, but adding a kid like [Young] will keep the spotlight on us. This will get some of our other girls looks [from college recruiters] that they may not have received otherwise."
Young figures to have a profound impact on Walker in other ways, too.
"We have always been a system team, and we still want to be," Arnold said. "But [Young] has the ability to make plays on her own. Her ability to create is special.
"I think she's the best midrange [shooter] in the nation. She has great one-on-one moves that she uses to create space. She gets her defender going backward and then has good elevation to shoot over the top."
Young remains humble. She marvels at how hard her new teammates work in practice.
"At my old school, we had moments where we were not focused throughout the whole practice," Young said. "But [being at Walker] motivates me because I don't want to let these girls down."
Or the folks in the stands. With a 3.7 GPA, multiple colleges are interested in getting Young's signature next month. She visited LSU this past weekend and has taken trips to Houston, Texas Tech and TCU.
She will take her final trip this coming weekend to the University of Miami.
"I'm looking for a school that offers a family atmosphere, [good] education, my type of [up-tempo] playing style and coaching stability," Young said. "Playing time is another factor."
Both of Young's parents played junior college basketball, and her only sibling, 5-foot-11 Warren Jr., is a talented eighth grader.
Young, who said she is "fast but a controllable fast," competes with Warren Jr. in everything from grades to basketball to video games. She beat him one-on-one the last time they played, which was just a month ago.
"I hate to lose," she said. "I'm competitive.
"It's just that I've put a lot of work into basketball. I have a love for the game."