Kobe Young

Chiawana High School senior Kobe Young scores a basket during a game earlier this year. Young recently committed to join the Boise State basketball team.

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A pregnant Christy Young and her husband Andran were watching a Lakers game years ago on TV when Kobe Bryant did what he often did.

He started draining 3s, hitting fadeaways, dunking on people — he couldn’t miss.

After another incredible shot fell, an idea popped into Andran’s head.

“How about we name him Kobe?” the Lakers fan said to his wife.

Nearly two decades later Kobe Young is soon to be a Division I basketball player. The Chiawana High School (Pasco, Washington) senior committed to Boise State earlier in the week and will join the Broncos this summer as a member of the 2021 recruiting class.

Young, a 6-foot-5 athletic shooter, choose the Broncos over basketball offers from Idaho State, UC San Diego and Central Washington, and he had football offers from Army and Central Washington.

“My parents and I just thought Boise was the best spot for me, football or basketball,” Young said. “We just fell in love with the program, so it was pretty much a no-brainer once they offered me. I called them back five minutes later and committed.

“I really enjoyed the players and the family environment. That was big for me to have a family environment and the players and the guys and coaches were great and the town was amazing and I just really liked it all.”

Ironically enough Young’s recruitment with Boise State picked up a few weeks ago when he was in Boise for an AAU tournament. His team was matched up against a team with Kade Rice, the son of Boise State coach Leon Rice.

Coaches are in a recruiting freeze and can’t watch prospects play until June 1 — unless they are watching their kids. So that allowed Rice to be in the stands for the game, and he quickly became impressed with Young.

“Coach Rice was there and he saw me play and after that was when we started talking,” Young said.

Young did plenty to earn the attention of Rice that day, but he laughed when asked if his success came against Kade.

“I don’t want to say it like that,” Young joked. “But it was a really good game for me.”

Young attended a Boise State summer elite camp two years ago with future Broncos Tyson Degenhart and Jace Whiting. Boise State’s coaches liked what they saw then and said they’d continue to follow him moving forward.

Rice and assistant coach R-Jay Barsh led Young’s recruitment, which got serious after the AAU tournament in Boise a few weeks ago and led to the scholarship offer.

Asked how he describes himself as a player, Young said, “I’m a pretty exciting player to watch honestly. I can make the right plays and have those big moments and big plays, but I’m a good teammate and a good person on and off the court.

“My game is definitely more of a slasher. I can shoot it, but my go-to is to try and get to the hole and either dunk it or get an and-one.”

Young would seem to be a prime candidate to redshirt next season with the talent Boise State already has in the program, but he said no serious conversations about that have taken place.

“I plan to show up and do my thing and see what happens,” Young said. “If they decide to redshirt me, I won’t be mad about it and I would understand. But if I get to play I’d be happy about that, too.”

Regardless, he’s just happy to have the recruiting process over and know where he’ll soon be moving for school.

“I’m pumped honestly,” Young said. “It’s been a pretty crazy journey, but I’m excited to finally be committed and to a school I love and can’t wait to represent.”

Young was rated by 247Sports as a three-star wide receiver prospect and said the decision on football or basketball in college was “kind of hard, but I always knew I wanted to play basketball in college. It was the one I started playing as a little kid and fell in love with I’m really happy it worked out.”

He’ll focus on basketball for now, but Young wouldn’t rule out maybe trying to eventually play both sports for the Broncos a few years from now.

“I haven’t talked about it with the coaches yet, but I feel like maybe I could see myself down the line maybe trying to walk on to the football team,” Young said.

But for now Young is all-in with basketball and with trying to help Boise State reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.

And he’s got plenty of motivation — his name.

“I feel like there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to let the name down in the basketball world,” Young said. “Kobe Bryant was such a good player and I want to just try to keep that going.”

He can thank his parents for that.

B.J Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013. He is an Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball poll voter, and also contributes to KBOI-TV as a Boise State insider.

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