Kevin Young had been in the running for a number of NBA head coaching jobs in the last few years and was the highest paid assistant coach in the league prior to the announcement Tuesday that he would be taking over as the new men’s basketball head coach at BYU.

He was recently on the short list of candidates that was interviewed for head coaching positions with the Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Hornets, and prior to the 2022-23 NBA season was a finalist for the Utah Jazz head coach opening. For many years Jazz CEO Danny Ainge has been a fan of Young’s and was overjoyed Tuesday at the news that he would be coaching at Ainge’s alma mater.

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“Wow, that’s a really good get for BYU,” Ainge said. “He was a guy that we interviewed (in 2022) for the head coaching job here and was incredibly impressive. I knew after those interviews that he would be a head coach — I thought a head coach in the NBA — some time soon. I know he was in the Brooklyn chase and in the Charlotte chase as well, and should have been.”

About a decade ago, Ainge said that he actually tried to hire Young to take over the Maine Red Claws (now Maine Celtics), the Boston Celtics G League affiliate, knowing that Young was an up-and-coming coach.

Instead, Young ended up working his way up through the Philadelphia 76ers G League team as an assistant and then head coach before joining the Sixers coaching staff and then the Phoenix Suns staff, where he was most recently the lead assistant.

“That’s a great, great get for BYU,” Ainge said, shaking his head. “Unbelievable. That’s fantastic.”

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