Back when Nick “Swaggy P” Young was still rocking a Trojans’ cardinal and gold uniform from 2004 to 2007, the USC athletic department was on top of the world. On the gridiron, the ’04 squad, led by Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, cruised to the BCS National Championship. One year later, the Trojans returned to the title game where they fell to Texas.
Meanwhile, USC wasn’t doing too shabby on the hardwood, either. After finishing 12-17 during Young’s rookie season, the Trojans steadily improved, going 17-13 the next year. Then, in 2007, Young and Gabe Pruitt led the Trojans to its first NCAA tournament appearance in five years, taking them to the Sweet Sixteen.
Not to rub it in, but it’s been pretty much downhill for the Trojans ever since. Plagued by sanctions, USC had its 2004 BCS Championship vacated, and the basketball squad hasn’t returned to the Sweet Sixteen since ’07. It goes without saying that Young picked a good time to peace out of the City of Angels.
After his junior year, Swaggy P declared for the draft and was selected by the Wizards at No. 16 overall. While some have questioned Young’s desire to rebound and pass – he’s never averaged more than 2.7 boards or 1.2 assists in a season – he has certainly proven that he can get buckets. Last year, Young led the Wizards in scoring, putting up 17.4 points per game. After failing to turn that performance into a payday, Young has returned to the Washington for his fifth season in the league. And so far he’s continued to do what he does best: score.
Through 16 games, Young, now a starter after beginning the season coming off the bench, is averaging 16.4 points per game. Before the Wizards loss to the Celtics on Jan. 2, we caught up with Young to hear his thoughts on the Pac-12’s decline, his relationship with Reggie Bush, and much more. And while it may not be on a playing field, Young revealed where USC is still ranked No. 1.
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Dime: What did you over the lockout to stay in shape?
Nick Young: Just worked out. Stayed in the gym. Did a little bit of cardio here and there. I played in the Drew League. I had 60 points in one of ’em games. You probably seen one of ’em (Laughs). Nah, but I tried to play in every game to get some full-court games in so I tried to play in everything.
Dime: What was your reaction to Jan Vesely‘s kiss on national television on draft night?
NY: Ah man, that was swag. I was like ‘dang.’ Hey, I liked that. That was cool. That was real cool for him to even have that swag, that European swag to do that.
Dime: Have guys been giving him a hard time in the locker room about it?
NY: A little bit, a little bit. I haven’t got my chance. You brought it to my attention. I kinda forgot so I’ma get on him.
Dime: You and Reggie Bush overlapped a little bit at USC. Were you boys?
NY: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s my dog. I was kinda happy for him when he went to Miami. He gon be all right.
Dime: Any sneakerheads on the Wizards?
NY: Yeah, I’d say Jordan Crawford is a big sneakerhead.
Dime: How bout you?
NY: Of course, of course. I’m by far at the top, and then I’d rank him number two. Andray Blatche three.
Dime: What are your favorite kicks to wear when you’re chilling?
NY: Man, probably the Space Jams. Probably the 3’s.
Dime: What music are you listening to these days before games?
NY: Ah man, I like a lot of Cali music. I’ve been listening to a little Nipsey Hussle here and there. I like Wiz Khalifa, of course. Who else? I like J. Cole too. And I might throw in Tyga.
Dime: What’s been up with the Pac-12 recently?
NY: It’s terrible this year. I was up there during the lockout, worked out at SC a lot (with a) couple players and stuff. I’mma say we young. We got a chance to grow. We gonna be all right next year. But this year, I say UCLA, everybody, is not doing so good, so I’m kinda glad about that.
Dime: How does the Washington D.C. party scene compare to USC?
NY: Ain’t nothing like USC, man. We still got that. We still No. 1, I think, at that. When you go to SC you don’t want to leave. That’s why Matt Leinart came back. Yeah, I miss it a little bit.
Dime: Who is the best dressed Wizard?
NY: Oh, of course I’m going to have to put myself up there. Of course. I’m going to have to say I’m No. 1 and then, it’s a toss up. It’s three-way tie after me. I might throw Mo (Maurice Evans) in there – on a good day. ‘Dre (Andray Blatche) on a good day, or Jordan (Crawford). For the worst dressed, probably have to be… Chris (Singleton) or Jan Vesely (laughs). Where he at?
Dime: I was over in the C’s locker room and KG is always rocking the scarves. What do you think of that style?
NY: Ah man, it’s cool. I like KG. His style’s all right.
Dime: Some guys have criticized you, saying you only like to score the ball. What do you think about that, and how do you respond to that criticism?
NY: Hey man, there’s a lot of haters out there, for real. They tell me I’m dribbling too much, I need to learn how to come off screens, how to do that. I’ma just keep working hard. That’s the definition of Swaggy P.
Is Young part of the problem or solution in Washington?
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