‘The Lord’s timing’: The inside story of how Kevin Young landed at BYU

Faith and family guide the Youngs to Provo, Utah

Two Sundays in 2011 changed Kevin Young’s life.

On the first, he was called down to the principal’s office, as he put it to his wife, Melissa. “I think I might be getting fired,” he told her.

He had clawed and climbed his way through unpaid and woefully underpaid basketball coaching jobs while working side hustles like washing windows, driving for FedEx and selling home security or genealogy software or tickets to his own games. He jokes that he knows the locations of every CVS in Southern California, because one summer he joined a crew to replace the signs outside every pharmacy in the region.

By 2011, he finally felt established as a third-year head coach in the D-League, the NBA’s minor league now known as the G-League. It is designed to develop players and coaches for the NBA.

But Young’s team, beset by injuries beyond the normal G-League roster chaos, was 6-17, and his instinct was right. The Iowa Energy fired him when Melissa was five months pregnant with their first child.

“I was, like, a decade younger than the other coaches and I thought I was on the fast track, on my way (to the NBA),” Young says. “It was devastating when I got let go because now I had to start over.”

The first decision was about where Melissa should deliver the baby. They drove two hours to her parents’ home in Nebraska. Then they moved on to Arizona to be surrounded by his family. It’s a brutal moment in his coaching career, but Young did enjoy a brief respite at home with Melissa while the Energy paid the last few months of his contract.

“Then the stress hit once Jude was born,” he says. “I didn’t have a job and we were trying to figure out what we were going to do.”

The other Sunday came later that year, on a rainy fall night. Young arrived alone in Bear, Delaware, to start a new job that was a step back and a cut in pay, though it came with free housing. He didn’t know a soul in the entire state. He had shipped a large metal pod with his belongings and called a local Latter-day Saint congregation for help.

“These two missionaries came over and we carried everything up to the third floor in the rain,” Young says.

He knew how this was going to look.

“It was a smelly old apartment and I had to leave town to go on the team’s first road trip, and Melissa and her mom were coming out with Jude, who was like three months old at the time. I knew she was going to not love the fact that I wasn’t there and that the apartment was smelly.”

The least he could do was buy her some bath salts. He left them on the bathtub, then cut out for a road game in another minor league basketball town.

“She called me just bawling on the phone,” he said.

“He wasn’t there, and I’d never lived east of Nebraska and it was just in a bad part of town and my mom and I just held each other and cried,” Melissa said. “We’re like, ‘OK, this is it.’ My mom said, ‘How am I going to leave you here with a 3-month old baby and your husband’s not even here?’”

How Kevin Young went from ‘just wanting to be a high school basketball coach’ to the head job at BYU

There’s so much more to the story about the months between those two Sundays and why he swallowed hard and accepted the job as an assistant coach with the Delaware 87ers, the minor league team for the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. There’s uncertainty and decisions and connections that finally — finally — led to the NBA, where he has spent the past eight years and has coached in the NBA Finals and an All-Star Game.

He became the league’s highest-paid assistant and appeared to be a lock to get his own head coaching position at the pinnacle of the game. But the Youngs say God had a different plan for them.

Last week Young chose instead to become the new men’s basketball coach at Brigham Young University. He will leave his job as the Phoenix Suns associate head coach at the end of team’s NBA playoffs run because he says he knows it’s right for his family and his career.

The story of how he landed at BYU needs to be clarified and amplified, including the way his contract has been mischaracterized. But in many ways the journey began in earnest in Bear.

“Moving to Delaware really strengthened our marriage,” Young said. “I grinded through that thing and ultimately ended up getting myself — over the course of seven years, I went from being a G-League assistant coach to being a front-bench-right-next-to-the-head-coach assistant with the Sixers. That time shaped us as a family and as a couple. It was instrumental in my career as well. Without that I would have never found my way to Phoenix, because Monty Williams and I linked up out there.

“This is a long story, because there’s so many tentacles to it, but that Iowa (firing) was a pivotal time for us.”

Those Delaware days began a string of faith-building experiences for Kevin and Melissa Young, he says. The tentacles of their story wind back and forth from east to west as a young coach and his wife grow closer to each other and God until their faith and basketball journey lands them in Provo, Utah.

“I don’t know, man,” Young says, “just a lot of a lot of things have lined up for us where we’ve had to just rely on the Lord’s timing for our family. He’s never really, never really let us down. Honestly, that’s how this thing happened.”

This story is told through exclusive interviews with Kevin and Melissa Young and others close to the hiring.

Ties to Brigham Young

NFL and BYU Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young is the great-great-great grandson of Brigham Young, the “American Moses” who led the exodus of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints west to Utah.

Steve Young called Kevin Young last week to welcome him to BYU and compare family notes. Steve was delighted to learn they are indeed cousins. Kevin Young is the great-great-great-great-grandson of Lorenzo Young, Brigham Young’s brother.

That connection only makes the joke told last week by Phoenix Suns All-Star guard Devin Booker funnier. Booker calls Young by his nickname, KY, and when he learned Young was leaving the team for BYU, he said the school now should be called KYU.

Kevin was born in Salt Lake City on Nov. 17, 1981, but his large family — Phil and Jody Young have five sons and a daughter — moved to Grand Prairie, Texas, near Dallas when Kevin was 1, and he grew up a Cowboys fan and followed the Mavericks. He was furious, his dad says, when the family moved to the Atlanta area when Kevin was 13, but the basketball coach at Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Georgia, became a role model. Coach Roger Kvam is, as Young’s father Phil says, “a great Christian man.”

The coach held practices before and after school, which created a conflict for Young, one of two Latter-day Saints in his high school class. The morning practice conflicted with the Young’s early morning seminary class. The family suggested Young could leave seminary 15 minutes early every day and join practice 15 minutes late. Kvam understood and immediately agreed.

“The first few times it happened,” Young says, “my teammates were like, ‘Dude, where were you? Like, what are you doing?’”

‘I know my voice’: New BYU basketball coach Kevin Young displays blend of confidence, humility

When the players went to coach Kvam, he said, ‘Look, if any you guys have an issue with Kevin being late, you can go to Bible study with him and come late, too.’”

Kvam and Young’s Division II coach, George Gibbons, report that Young reveled in competition. One time, when Young’s Clayton State team played its rival, he was energized to see that a Kennesaw State student had painted Young’s No. 12 on the front of his bare chest and “Kevin sucks” on his bare back.

Tony Ingle was Kennesaw State’s head coach. Many BYU fans know Ingle as a beloved assistant coach brimming with eternal optimism and quick quips. They also remember that in 1996-97, BYU went 0-19 after Ingle took over as interim head coach when Roger Reid was fired seven games into the season.

Ingle built a juggernaut at Kennesaw State. His team won all four games against Clayton State when Young played. At the end of Young’s senior season, Ingle and Kennesaw State won the Division II national championship.

Phoenix Suns assistant coach Kevin Young, right, argues with a referee during game against the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in Phoenix.
Phoenix Suns assistant coach Kevin Young, right, argues with a referee during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in Phoenix. On Tuesday, April 16, 2024, BYU announced it has hired him as its new head coach. | Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press

A wild Thursday

Young has been a hot commodity in NBA coaching circles for several years now. He interviewed for head coach openings with the 76ers in 2020, the Washington Wizards in 2021 and the Utah Jazz in 2022. Last year, he was interviewed by the Houston Rockets, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Toronto Raptors and the Suns. He was a finalist with the Wizards, Jazz and Suns.

“Every year for the last couple years,” he says, “I was stressed about, ‘Am I going to get a head coaching job. Where’s it going to be? Are we gonna have to move? When this hiring season comes around, it’s nerve-racking.”

This spring, with the Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Hornets showing interest, was no different, he said, until he felt an overwhelming sense of calm that everything would be fine.

“We prayed to just have some level of clarity with what was going to happen,” he said.

Young was a finalist for the Nets job and met with team brass for a final interview on an off day for the Suns on Thursday, April 11. Meanwhile, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe was in Florida, where the Cougarettes were winning the 2024 NCAA Division IA hip hop and jazz national championships. That’s when Kentucky’s athletic director called Holmoe to ask permission to talk to Mark Pope about replacing John Calipari.

After his interview with the Nets, Young flew to Sacramento to meet back up with the team. As he finished dinner with his parents, one of his brothers sent a text that Pope had left BYU for Kentucky. Soon after, Young fielded a call from BYU deputy athletic director Brian Santiago, who told him he was on the school’s short list. Young had interviewed for the BYU job when the school hired Pope in 2019, but college basketball really wasn’t on his radar.

The next day, Friday, the Suns beat the Sacramento Kings, 108-107, part of a hot finish that helped them earn the sixth and final automatic playoff spot in the Western Conference and avoid the NBA’s play-in tournament for the seventh and eight spots.

“It was such a big game for our group, and mentally it was cool because I was able to kind of lose myself in that game and just coach the heck out of that game to just get a mental break from all the stuff I was having to think about and decide upon,” Young says.

A spiritual text

The Suns had one more regular-season game to play, in Minnesota against the Timberwolves. But Young needed to talk to Melissa.

“We were trying to make arguably the biggest decision of our lives,” he says. “I was trying to tell everyone involved” — Brooklyn, Phoenix, BYU — “‘I’ve just got to get home. I just gotta get home to my wife, I gotta look at her in the eyes and we’ve got to talk this thing through.’”

During the flight from Sacramento to Minneapolis, Kevin received “this super long text” from Melissa.

“It was really heartfelt and she said a lot of things that I’ve really never heard her say in terms of her own faith and her own testimony and what BYU would mean for our kids, too. I get emotional, honestly, thinking about it. That text was a pretty spiritual experience for me.”

The text had two main components, the Youngs say.

First, while they both loved the NBA and the coaches and players, the schedule “is challenging for family life, there’s no question,” Kevin says. Melissa shared with him how much she had sacrificed the past 13 years, initially raising the children on the East Coast, far from family, and once they were in Phoenix near family, he still was gone as many as 200 nights as he coached 82 to 100 games a year.

BYU players who’ve invested sweat equity in program energized over the hiring of Kevin Young

Winning the Brooklyn job would mean moving back East away from family again. Going to BYU would reduce his schedule to about 35 games and the Youngs would be a short, direct plane ride from their parents.

“This obviously will have a lot of its own stress, there’s no question about it,” Kevin Young says about leading BYU in the Big 12, considered the nation’s deepest college basketball conference. “But at least we’ll be stressed together more than we would have been otherwise.”

Second, Melissa told him she was ready for the challenge, of the responsibility of being the coach’s wife at BYU.

“I just never really heard her express anything like that,” he said. “It was cool to read that.”

Her text said they had reached the highest level they could and now it was time to do something for their family.

“We can give the NBA up,” she says she told him. “We can. We can give up the fun, the cool — it is cool, it’s fun, it’s exciting — but we can give it up for our family. We are meant to be at BYU, for whatever reason, and we need to step into that role. We need to have faith that we can rise up to that occasion and whatever we need to do, and we need to do it.”

For starters, at BYU Kevin will get Sundays off.

“He hasn’t had Sundays off during the season ever in 13 years,” Melissa says.

The Youngs have felt blessed by the NBA coaches he coached for, Brett Brown in Philadelphia and Monty Williams in Phoenix. Williams started every coaches’ meeting with a prayer. He led the Suns in the Lord’s Prayer before each game.

“Every NBA coach that we’ve coached for has been very good, very respectful of our beliefs, interested in our beliefs and wanted to hear more,” Melissa said.

The text message moved the needle toward BYU for Kevin, he says. But they still wanted to look into each other’s eyes and talk it out.

“It was tormenting,” Melissa says. “It was horrible.”

The Suns walloped the Timberwolves on Sunday, April 14, to finish the regular season, and Kevin and the team finally flew home with the Nets and BYU still in hot pursuit. But he got to look Melissa in the eyes.

“To feel each other’s emotions and be face to face, it was totally different,” she says. “We got on the same page very quickly once we were together.”

Meanwhile, Brooklyn knew BYU had entered the picture for Young late in the Nets’ process and kept seeking clarity.

BYU’s new men’s head basketball coach Kevin Young looks up at the Marriott Center as he walks in prior to the official announcement in Provo on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

BYU’s hiring process

On April 1, Andy Enfield dropped a bomb in Los Angeles. At first, the blast didn’t even rattle the windows at BYU. Ten days later, the concussion wave shattered the glass.

Enfield had announced that after 11 years at USC, he was leaving for SMU. Soon after, Eric Musselman left Arkansas for USC. Finally, John Calipari then decided to depart Kentucky to take the Arkansas job. That finally led Mark Pope, a Kentucky alum, to leave BYU for his alma mater.

“Andy Enfield caused this whole thing,” said Young’s boss, Phoenix Suns head coach Frank Vogel.

The hiring process is different at BYU, sponsored as it is by the Church of Jesus Christ, than at other universities. While Young was juggling the end of the Suns’ season and the interest of the Nets and Hornets and Cougars over the weekend, he was interviewed by Elder Clark G. Gilbert, a general authority seventy and commissioner of Church Education.

Then early Monday the 15th, BYU President Shane Reese, Advancement Vice President Keith Vorkink, Holmoe and Santiago flew down and discreetly interviewed the Youngs at a hotel in Phoenix.

“Most of the time when I go into an interview, I do extensive background on the people who are going to be in the room,” Young says. “Everything here was happening so quickly that I wasn’t as up to speed on President Reese.”

The discussion moved to analytics. Young was unaware that Reese is an expert in sports analytics research who had done work for the Philadelphia Eagles and U.S. men’s volleyball team as he told Reese and the other BYU administrators that he is deeply committed to analytics in basketball and had hired the Suns analytics boss.

“I saw President Reese light up like crazy,” Young says with a laugh. “I found out later why that excited him so much. I felt a real connection to him that morning, and that was a huge needle mover for me. I resonated with his personality. That made me feel like, OK, I could do this. I could work with these guys.”

He also liked the fact that BYU plays in the Big 12, college basketball’s deepest conference, and the school’s religious environment and mission.

That all but settled it for Young. He was going to BYU if approved.

What Kevin Young said at his BYU introductory press conference

Young left the interview to go to Suns practice, after which the Youngs were interviewed in a Zoom call by two senior leaders of the church.

“It was a little bit surreal,” Young said. “I’ve been on a lot of Zoom calls with work but to pop open the Zoom this time and there’s those two on there was not an everyday occurrence. They were heartfelt. They were genuine, they put Melissa at ease. It was great.”

“Every faculty and leadership hire at BYU has a general authority interview,” Elder Gilbert said. “In this case, because of the visibility of this position, the president of the university and I, along with two senior leaders, interviewed Coach Young.

“It is important to understand that the mission of BYU is to develop disciples of Jesus Christ. So while some might view the ecclesiastical interviews as a final check box, that would understate their significance. Part of the ecclesiastical interview is to affirm ecclesiastical fit and mission alignment. The interview also confirms a willingness to teach and elevate those values institutionally. But it would be a mistake to assume those interviews are simply final approvals affirming prior efforts to recommend a candidate. The interviews are designed to teach, encourage and begin to mentor the work of a new and critical university leader.”

The Youngs went home, talked, spoke with his agent at CAA Sports and decided to commit to BYU.

The final step was formal approval from the board of trustees, who met Tuesday the 16th and approved Young’s hiring.

“We were prayerful this whole time that a job would feel right to us,” Melissa says, “and the overwhelming feeling of it being right, we couldn’t deny it. We couldn’t say no after that. We knew it was right.”

“The way this progressed,” Kevin says, “as far as how attractive this became for me and her, it just became undeniable.”

BYU announced the deal Tuesday afternoon. Utah Jazz CEO and BYU basketball legend Danny Ainge knew the sides were close, but he was busy that day with Jazz business and didn’t know it was finalized. He had interviewed Young for two head coaching positions in the past, for the D-League’s Maine Red Claws a decade ago, and for the Jazz job last year.

“In my 40 years in the NBA, I’ve been involved in many deals where you have a contract waiting and it doesn’t get signed, so when that did get done, I was excited,” he told the Deseret News. “I knew it was looking good, but I was busy with exit interviews that day, so when I found out it was done, I was excited. That was really cool.”

New BYU basketball coach Kevin Young and his family step off the plane in Utah before his introductory press conference on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. | Nate Edwards, BYU

What Young’s BYU introduction revealed about him

On Wednesday, Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith flew on the team’s private jet to Los Angeles with Young’s brother, Daniel, who has worked for Smith’s unicorn company, Qualtrics, for more than a dozen years. After talks with NHL leaders, they flew to Phoenix and picked up Young and his family and flew them to Provo.

The jet landed at the Provo Airport at 5:30 p.m. and Young strode down the stairs holding hands with his 6-year-old daughter, Zoey, followed by Melissa and their boys, Jude, 10, and Van, 8. At 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center, Reese and Holmoe introduced Young as BYU’s 20th men’s basketball coach.

Young spoke for six minutes, saying his program would play fast-paced basketball and become “the best place in college basketball to prepare young men to play in the NBA.” Reese nodded when the coach said he would push the envelope analytically. When Young finished with, “Let’s go, Cougs,” Reese and Vorkink shared broad smiles and a vigorous handshake.

During a Q&A with reporters, Young revealed that he initially was scared by NIL and the transfer portal, which are rocking college sports. “To be honest, I still am,” he said.

He was real, honest, transparent and self-deprecating. That’s why he’ll succeed, said his brother, Justin Young, who is a national expert on college basketball recruiting. Justin had 117 phone conversations on Tuesday the 16th after BYU announced his brother’s hiring.

“I’m trying to explain to high school and college coaches who he is, because they don’t know him because he’s been in the NBA,” says Justin, who has written about high school recruits and the NBA draft and put on camps and tournaments for over two decades. “I tell them he’s humble, and he tells the truth. Honestly. It’s just who he is. I’ve done this my whole career. There’s a cadence to college coaches that the minute you hear them fall into it, you know the guy doesn’t believe a thing they’re saying.”

His brother is different, he said, and it’s why he connects with some of the NBA’s biggest stars.

“The reason why Kevin Durant likes him and Devin Booker likes him and Chris Paul calls him all the time is because Kevin is real. They want him to tell them the truth. J.J. Reddick calls him all the time, and says, ‘tell me the truth.’

“When you think about the guys that are successful in college, that’s their personality. Scott Drew’s that way. Bill Self is honestly that way; Bill’s real. Jay Wright’s that way. Tom Izzo tells you exactly how he thinks. A lot of other guys are trying to sell you a used car. They’re looking at Hoop Dirt every day trying to figure out where their next job is gonna be. The guys that are honest win.”

Both Young boys are like their dad, Phil. They’re grinders. Kevin Young was scheduled to speak with me Thursday night after he flew with the team to Minnesota to prepare for the first two games of the Suns’ NBA playoff series with the Timberwolves.

At 1:38 a.m. Central time Friday, he sent a text. “Apologies. Just wrapped up recruiting calls. I’m free tomorrow (night).”

What is BYU really paying Kevin Young?

Multiple BYU sources said the CBSSports.com report about Young’s contract was inaccurate and overstated. It is not worth “in the neighborhood of $30 million” and is not being financed by outside donors.

“It’s the most competitive basketball contract BYU has ever offered,” said Vorkink, the university’s advancement vice president. He declined to outline the specifics of Young’s contract, per university policy.

The university as a whole is heavily supported by tithing paid by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but Vorkink reiterated that no tithing funds are used to fund the athletic department. The department’s budget is expanding with BYU’s move to the Big 12, and donor funds are vital to supporting Cougar sports, but the department pays the contracts of its employees and coaches, the vice president said.

BYU is also different than many schools because it expects from its employees a measure of commitment that includes time, talents, substance and abilities to strengthen the overall mission of the university.

“Our philosophy is to not be the highest bidder. We want to acknowledge the value of someone’s contribution while also inviting a measure of personal commitment,” Vorkink said. “We ask that of many of our coaches, several of whom face more lucrative options but choose to stay at BYU to contribute to the university’s distinctive mission in a spiritually supportive and family friendly environment.”

BYU’s director of athletics, Tom Holmoe, welcomes the new men’s head basketball coach, Kevin Young, onto the stage at an announcement event in the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

What’s next for Young and BYU?

Young plans to announce the hiring of his first assistant coach this week.

Though he told BYU players to make sure to watch the Suns play the Timberwolves, the Phoenix offense, though designed by him, is not exactly in his image.

In a playoffs preview in The Athletic, John Hollinger wrote that Suns stars “Devin Booker, Bradley Beal and Kevin Durant are Team Pull-Up, devouring opponents by raining jumpers when they can get space coming around a screen.” During Game 1 on Saturday, when Minnesota beat Phoenix, 120-95, announcer Mark Jones called Durant “Captain Middy,” a reference to his outstanding mid-range game, which refers to shots between the key and the 3-point line.

Young said the Suns shoot so many mid-range jump shots because of their personnel and because that is the shot defenses prefer to give up over shots at the rim or beyond the 3-point line.

“You know Devin Booker loves that shot, Kevin Durant loves that shot,” he says. “Book and Kev are two of the biggest pull-up-two shooters in the league. We present a conundrum for teams because Kevin and Devin make that shot at a higher clip than just about anyone in the NBA.”

Young says he prefers a “rim and 3″ offense.

At his introductory press conference, he said BYU would play a fast-paced, five-out offense, meaning they will run and spread the floor with all five players spaced around the 3-point line. From there, they will shoot the higher value shot or attack the rim.

“That’s more my appetite, but if you have world-class, pull-up-two shooters, you certainly welcome it.

“What I really want to grow with our guys at BYU is being able to shoot those same pull-ups but shooting them from 3. The skill set of being able to shoot 3s off the dribble is the next generation and wave of NBA play. If you can do that, that’s one of the most potent skills to stop in the league.”

Young’s faith journey

New BYU basketball coach Kevin Young and family members have a Facetime call with Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid at the Marriott Center on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. | Nate Edwards, BYU

Many BYU basketball players serve Latter-day Saint missions. Young’s four brothers did, and at one point, he decided he would, too. During his sophomore year in junior college, he told the three Division II schools that were recruiting him that he would play his junior season, then leave on a mission. Two schools dropped him. He was grateful Clayton State was willing to honor that religious commitment, but eventually he determined he would not serve.

He said he connected more to his faith over a two-year period that began when Dick Hunsaker, Utah Valley University’s basketball coach and a mentor to Young, offered him a volunteer job. When his youngest brother got engaged, he prepared himself to go to the temple to receive his endowment — a ceremony of religious instruction that includes making covenants, or promises, with God — the same night as his brother’s fiancée. He attended their marriage sealing in the temple.

“That was a cool moment, obviously, a huge step for me to do that,” he says.

He credits his parents for teaching him principles that guided his life. Phil Young said he recently told his son, “You have the highest integrity of any man I’ve ever known.”

Young married Melissa in the Salt Lake Temple in July 2011.

“The foundation of my testimony is my belief in Jesus Christ,” he says. “What’s grown over the years as I’ve become a dad and have way more things on my plate is my faith in the Lord’s timing and the Lord’s plan.”

It’s been evident to the Youngs throughout their joint journey of family and faith. On Memorial Day in 2016, after nine years in the minor leagues, 76ers coach Brett Brown called the Youngs as they sat at their kitchen table.

“He told Kevin, ‘I’m gonna bring you up to the Sixers staff coaching staff,’” Melissa says. “We just cried and cried.”

Brown and Young and the Sixers went 174-146 over the next four seasons, reaching the playoffs each of the final three years. The Youngs loved Brown and that coaching staff, which included Monty Williams for the final season, and they loved Philly and their Latter-day Saint ward.

When the 76ers fired the whole coaching staff in 2020, Monty Williams was hired as the Suns head coach the next day and hired Young.

“We really connected with Monty and his family because they are such a good awesome Christian family,” Melissa says. “He called and said, ‘You’re coming to Phoenix,’ and I said, ‘This is Heavenly Father. He’s listened to our prayers because this is the only team in the NBA where we have family. Kevin’s parents and three of his siblings lived in Arizona. You can’t just go apply for an NBA job. You have to know someone. For Monty Williams to get that job and bring us there was definitely Heavenly Father’s like playing for us.”

The Suns went 209-109 with Young next to the head coach. Williams made him the associate head coach, and led every coaches’ meetings with prayer. He led the team in the Lord’s Prayer before every game.

“To be in the trenches at the highest level with guys that share that belief in Christ was cool,” Young says. “I’m typically pretty private with that, so it was cool to see that many people be open to that.”

Three years under Williams in Phoenix included a run to the NBA Finals in 2021 and the league’s best record in 2022. When Williams was fired last spring, the Suns hired Frank Vogel over Young, but Vogel kept him, and the Suns made Young the highest-paid assistant coach in the NBA at $2 million per year.

“I truly, truly believe we are at BYU is because of Heavenly Father’s plans,” Melissa Young says. “We weren’t supposed to go to Brooklyn. We were supposed to come here.”

The setup for the introductory press conference for new BYU basketball coach Kevin Young. | Scott G Winterton