Things were looking up for the Fenwick High School boys basketball team after last season, during which a sophomore-laden squad went 21-13 with an appearance in the IHSA Class 3A De La Salle Sectional title game.
But any continued progress for the Friars will need to be made without Tony Young, who told Wednesday Journal in a phone interview last week that he will not return as head coach.
“To be honest, the administration and I saw different directions for the program,” said Young, who went 30-31 in two seasons with a regional title in each. “We had different ideas on what we wanted to do, and we just decided it wasn’t going to work.”
Young added that there were things outside of basketball he wanted to do, and he felt he wouldn’t be able to do them had he stayed at Fenwick. Still, Young thought it was tough to leave, especially coming off last year’s unexpected success, which resulted in him being named the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association District Seven Coach of the Year.
“Fenwick gave me an opportunity, and we did some great things in two years,” he said. “It was a fun run, but there are other things I want to do at this point with my life.”
Young said he’ll miss being around the players, whom he gave credit to for his success.
“They’re all going to do great things,” he said. “Whoever goes or stays, every one of those kids is good. It’s not like I’m leaving them. I’m just leaving the place.”
Coincidental or not, three of those players have already transferred out. Rising senior Darshan Thomas is now at Marist, rising junior J.T. Pettigrew is at Bolingbrook and rising junior Zion Young (Tony’s son) is at Schaumburg.
The unexpected losses mean the Friars, as currently set up, have a pronounced lack of size heading into next season.
For now, Fenwick’s top returnees are all rising juniors — Caleb Burgins, Dominick Ducree, Kam Hogan, Ty Macariola and Nate Marshall. Incoming freshman Jake Thies along with rising juniors Makai Mandley and Machi Nelson figure to play key roles.
Young said he’s been approached about a few opportunities, but added he likely will take some time away from coaching. However, it doesn’t mean he won’t be around the game.
“Coaching is just another vessel to help kids with dreams,” he said. “I want to guide young men and watch them become successful. I’m cool taking a break from being a head coach, but I’ll still be around basketball. Just because I’m not at Fenwick, that doesn’t stop my mission and purpose.”
Scott Hardesty, director of marketing communications at Fenwick High School, confirmed that Young is no longer employed at the school. An announcement on Young’s replacement could come as early as this week.
David Fergerson, an assistant for the Friars’ girls team last year, has been coaching the boys on an interim basis this summer.