McNamara forward Maurice Young made one of his signature plays in the third quarter of his team's 72-50 victory over St. John's last season. He got the ball near the sideline and promptly passed it to an elderly woman in the stands.
Young had been given the game ball after he scored his 1,116th career point, making him the school's all-time leading scorer. But instead of relishing the spotlight, he leaned over, quietly gave the ball as a gift to his grandmother, then readied himself to finish the game.
"Maurice is just a special person," Mustangs Coach Derek Campbell said. "You can tell he comes from a great family. The thing I like most about him is his smile. It absolutely brightens my day every time."
Young has reason to smile. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound senior has helped the Mustangs to a 6-3 start, increasing his career point total to nearly 1,600. Last season he averaged 23 points and seven rebounds per game. Those numbers--and his 3.7 grade-point average--helped him earn a full basketball scholarship at Virginia.
His matriculation to Charlottesville will present new challenges for his family--especially his mother, Sheree. She has attended every one of Maurice's games since he was 12 years old. And not just McNamara games. She also has attended Young's Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) games and tournaments--played as far away as Las Vegas--and traveled to watch Young participate in the ABCD camp in Indianapolis last summer.
"I cannot remember a time when my mother was not at one of my games," Young said. "She even keeps stats at the games. I think she was the one who alerted Coach Campbell that I was about to break the school's all-time record for points."
Young has relied on his family throughout his career. His father, Clodie, and older brother Marcus attend most games. And Sheree got Maurice's career started, according to Marcus.
"We had a basketball hoop in our backyard, and all my friends would come over to play," said Marcus Young, now a junior at Bowie State. "Mom only had one rule: We could only play if we let Maurice play with us. He had to be included in everything. We played in a [recreational] league tournament for 11- and 12-year-olds one time, and Maurice was included in that as well. He was the only 9-year-old in the whole tournament."
That should be no surprise--Young usually adapts well to unfamiliar and challenging circumstances. When Maurice was 6 months old, Clodie wanted to teach him how to swim. So Clodie brought him to the pool in the family's backyard, put him in the water and sat back to watch. Young swam.
As a 6-4, rail-thin freshman at McNamara years later, Campbell decided to start Young at center, even though that meant facing All-Met center Ruben Boumtje Boumtje (Carroll High, Georgetown) and the All-Met player of the year, forward Alvin Brown (Gonzaga High, Xavier). Young wound up averaging 10 points and five rebounds per game.
Last year he helped the Mustangs go 23-8, setting the school record for wins in a season. This year, they are shooting for more.
"Right now everyone is focused on winning the City Title," Young said. "We have a legitimate shot at it. I know a lot of other coaches have seen me for four years and think that if they stop me, they can stop McNamara. But if other guys on the team step forward and take over, we will be really successful."
But according to Campbell, Young already has found success.
"I always say he is my poster child for what a student-athlete should be," Campbell said. "He works hard in everything. He is a special kid, and we are going to miss him when he leaves."
CAPTION: Senior forward Maurice Young is McNamara's all-time leading scorer.