Darius Young and Freddie Young were on different teams last Friday evening as the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League held its semifinals but the cousins left the Community Park courts forever linked in lore of the league.
In a ceremony between games, the Youngs, together with Scott Findlay, were inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame.
Darius, who helps coach the Ivy Inn team which topped defending champion Winberie’s to advance to this year’s title series, basked in the glow of the Hall of Fame accolade.
“It is nice to be noticed for things you have done in the past and not be forgotten,” said Young, a star performer for the legendary My-T-Sharp and Tigers Tale teams that won eight titles in the first 11 years of the league. “I am honored to still be thought of as a good player.”
Young was especially honored to be going into the Hall of Fame along with cousin Freddie, his running mate on those storied Tiger’s Tale squads. “That was really special,” said Young, 43, a 1988 Princeton High alum who starred in basketball and football.
“Freddie and I started in 1989. Even though we are not on the same team now we still have the feelings of being together. There are a lot of memories.”
Freddie, currently a player/coach for a Dr. Palmer squad that fell to Sneakers Plus in the semis, was pleasantly surprised to to get the Hall of Fame honor while still active on the court.
“To be honest, the first thing I said is don’t you have to be retired to get inducted,” said Young.
“They said Freddie it has been long enough, it has been 25 years. I guess I have been kind of grandfathered. It’s hard for me to stop playing but that’s what Dr. (Michael) Palmer and I were just talking about, maybe not coming back to play next year. We said that last year and here we are this year.”
Freddie and his cousin have been talking about going into the Hall of Fame at the same time.
“That was a vision we had for many years, we talked about it, not to the league but between the two of us so it was a big surprise to know that the both of us were going in at the same time,” said Young, 45, who also was a football and basketball standout at PHS.
“Him being my younger cousin, that means a lot also. We started this league, we have been here since day one when it was four teams.”
Young is proud to be a building block of the league, which started in 1989 and is celebrating its 25th season this summer.
“It was really fun for us because we were young and very dominant over the other teams,” said Young, a Physical Education teacher at Pace Charter School in Hamilton who coaches basketball and lacrosse at Princeton Day School.
“After the first couple of years, it was let’s go out and win another one, let’s go out and win another one. They sanctioned the league, which allowed Division I college players to come and play. Once they did that, the competition got a lot better. We still won a few more titles after that but then our age got to us. The 18, 19, 20, and 21 year olds were coming in. That was a little tough.”
Darius hopes that today’s younger players will take something from what he and his cousin have done on the Community Park courts.
“I want the young players to know the history of the league,” said Young, the strength and conditioning coach at PDS who also helps guide the Panther boys’ hoops team.
“It is the 25th year and it is good for them to know the foundation of the league. There is a pride that goes into it. The guys on Tiger’s Tale, even today still think they are the toughest in the league. They are always talking about how tough they were.”
Freddie takes pride in giving back to his community through summer hoops.
“I am a Princetonian,” said Young. “Princeton raised me, so whatever I can do, whether it be playing in this league, coaching in this league, helping out in any way in this league, that’s what I am going to do because this is where I come from. With that being said, as long as this league is going on, you will see my face around.”
Darius, for his part, can’t face not being around the league either.
“It all goes back to being with a team where the guys are close,” said Young.
“We are friends outside of the game. You come to the park and there is a family atmosphere. These are the guys that you want to go to battle with. In the heat of battle, I know I can depend on them. Take Friday’s game, we didn’t point fingers, we were encouraging each other and we came out with the win. I can’t see myself with any other team.”