High-flying import Najeal Young is set to entertain NBL1 fans for the next three years after agreeing to a new deal with the Frankston Blues.
“I just love Australia,” enthused Young in discussing his signing.
“[There is] just something about the community. I love this community! I love the people in the front office. Everyone has made me feel at home, right from the first day I arrived. Just the fact that I was able to find a place that feels like home, and I also just love playing for the Frankston Blues.”
The Frankston basketball community loves Young too.
It’s not just his scoring where the 6’6 forward delivered 13.7 points per game at 60% from the field, or the rebounding (7.2rpg) and defensive prowess that had him tabbed as one of the best defenders in the league. It is also what Young delivers off the court that has endeared Young with Blues fans young and old down at Bardia Avenue. Young has been active in getting involved with the juniors at grassroots level, and it has something that he has enjoyed.
“The one thing that my father taught me growing up was that I have to give back,” outlined Young. “Not only it is my duty, but I also enjoy it! I love being involved with the junior Blues program, and giving back to help them improve and be better. To be able to give them that gateway and that bridge to help them get to where they want to be in basketball is something special.”
Young’s impact with the junior program is rivaling that of Blues women’s star Steph Reid, with the two who have been actively involved in the Regional Academy. They have since joined forces to start their own business called Blue Collar Elite, providing an elite junior training program for talented basketballers in the region.
“Hopefully those kids that I help empower, helps create a culture of champions. A culture that not only care about basketball but also the community, so that everyone is better off. Abby [Chernisoff], Steph [Reid], Tori [Jackson] and Kassie [Boorer], they are all involved [with the juniors]. The combination of all of us investing in our youth – the kids have access to us and we are connected and helping them out, giving them an opportunity that [some of us] never had. I am happy to be a part of that, and an ambassador for Frankston basketball.”
While Young has been a driving force with developing the next wave of junior talent, he would explain that there was a sense of unfinished business within the playing group, and a sense that the core playing group was on the cusp of achieving something special.
“Especially after the season came to an end, it as not the way we wanted to finish,” said Young on the Blues preliminary final exit at the hands of the Bendigo Braves. “We want another crack! We came up short. Next year, it is a primary goal to get to that grand final.
“With our core guys all coming back, we already have that chemistry after playing together for a season. Make no mistake, we all want to bring the championship back to Frankston.”
Young would further explain that such was the growing confidence and camaraderie within the playing group, the preliminary final disappointment has only boosted the resolve of the group.
“We all decided to come back and lock in for a couple of years,” Young added. “Guys like Iggy [Hadziomerovic], Lachy [Barker] and Al [Alistair Macdonald] are all locked in. Harmsy [head coach Andrew Harms], being the great guy and the great coach he is, I feel confident in him and the way and direction that Frankston is going in. It was a no brainer for me, and I’m happy to be coming back and have the chance to call Australia home.”
Frankston returns to finals action at NBL1 level for the first time in 10 years last season, with the Blues community playing a big part in that success. with the crowds at Bardia Avenue widely deemed one of the best in the league.
“The crowd…I want it to continue!” shared Young. “I want teams coming into Frankston wanting to fear coming here. We by far have the best crowd in the whole league. Pretty soon Frankston is going to have to build a bigger place so we can fit everyone in! If we keep playing hard, and keep winning games, we will definitely continue to grow the fan base.
“We want to try and do something that has not been done before. We want to win a championship, but we would love nothing better to win more than one. If we can keep the core group together, we would do something special at Frankston over the next few years.
Stay tuned to Frankston Blues’ website and social media platforms for more announcements and check our Senior Blues 2020 Off-Season Announcements page.