Clarksville, Ark.-The American Southwest Conference's leading scorer can do much more than just shoot the three.
University of the Ozarks women’s basketball player April Young is just as comfortable in a Biology class as she is draining a shot from behind the arc. Young, who sports a 3.98 grade point average as a Biology major, was recently named to the prestigious ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Team for her excellence in the classroom and on the court. The 5-foot-6 sharp-shooter is the ASC’s top scorer with a 16.3 points per game average. She is also the ASC leader in three-pointers per game (2.5). The sophomore guard was named ASC Player of the Week last month, and has hit 51 three-pointers this year. Young’s success on the court this season is remarkable considering she averaged only 5.8 points and 1.8 rebounds a year ago. She started in just one game last season, and that came as a result of an injury to another player.
Ozarks’ first-year Head Coach Carl Ramsey credits her resurgence to an increased confidence level.
“I think a lot of it is her confidence level,” said Ramsey. “She realizes I have confidence in her and that has helped the mental aspect of her game. As she started playing well and getting those minutes her confidence went up.”
In just her first year as a full-time starter, Young has been a force. She has scored in double figures 20 times and hit four or more three-pointers against seven opponents. She has posted five 20-plus scoring games, including scoring a career-high 26 against UT-Tyler January 22.
“I think her biggest asset is the fact that she is versatile,” said Ramsey. “She is hard to guard because if our opponents put a smaller player on her she can take them inside and if they put a bigger kid on her she can pull them outside. She is a great rebounder for her size. She is our best player taking it to the basket and finishing. She leaves it all out on the floor, and that is what you ask for.”
According to Ramsey, Young has remained level-headed when it comes to her individual accomplishments.
“I know she would trade her points for a better record,” said Ramsey. “I think April is genuinely concerned about the success of the team. I think she epitomizes what is good about college athletics.”
Ramsey believes Young’s parents have been influential in her development as a student-athlete.
“Obviously her mom and dad did a good job of bringing her up because she excels in everything she does,” said Ramsey. “She is focused and very mature for her age. She is a motivated young lady and understands why she is here. I think it says a whole lot for her parents and what great people they are.”
The Deer, Ark., native is among the top students on Ozarks’ campus. She aspires to be a veterinarian, and hopes to attend Oklahoma State University after graduation.
“I want to work with animals,” said Young. “I like my Biology classes here. I have also gained an interest in psychology.”
There is no exact science in earning top marks, according to Young, who is already classified as a junior academically.
“I just do it,” she said.
With a full load of challenging classes and a work-study job, Young views basketball as a way to relax.
“Playing basketball is a type of release for me,” said Young. “I have so much other stuff going on that I use basketball as a way of having fun. When I am on the court I don’t have to worry about school or work. I just play.”
While the Lady Eagles have had their ups-and-downs this year, Young believes there are better things ahead for the Ramsey-led program.
“Coach Ramsey has really worked on motivating us as a team,” said Young. “He has us believing we are building for something bigger and better.”
As for the rest of the season, Young hopes the team can finish strong. Ozarks (5-16, 3-13 ASC) will play at UT-Tyler Saturday and will then host LeTourneau University February 18 and East Texas Baptist University February 20 to end the season.
“It would be nice to win our last three games, especially our last two home games,” said Young. “We want to finish strong. We know it could give us momentum heading into next season. We have done some good things this season and we have seen improvement.”