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Celtics select Young at No. 17

6/27/2014
Jeyhoun Allebaugh/NBAE/Getty Images

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics selected Kentucky swingman James Young with the 17th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft.

Young is a 6-foot-7 wing (with a 7-foot wingspan). He's regarded as a scoring wing after averaging 14.3 points per game in his freshman season at Kentucky. Young is also only 18 years old, suggesting his game is still developing.

"[Young has] got a stroke that -- he’s just going to get better and better," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "He’s a young guy. We felt like he was a very, very undervalued scoring wing in this draft. Everybody in this room had him ranked a lot higher than 17, so we were surprised he was available at 17. And thrilled that he was available at 17."

Young had been dubbed a potential lottery candidate. The left-handed shooter must improve his 3-point stroke at the NBA level (he shot 34.9 percent beyond the college arc last season), but offers versatility with his size on the wing.

"I've always looked and tried to say, OK, if we have a primary ball handler on the floor, 2 and 3 are pretty interchangeable in regards to actions," said Stevens. "Depending on who we are playing, we can kinda mix and match. I think he can play some 2, I think he can play some 3 against certain teams. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. But he’s a player. And anybody that’s a player, who can put the ball on the floor and put the ball in the basket -- we’ve talked about our struggles to score -- he’s a guy that can create offense."

On a conference call with the Boston media, Young said, "My strength is my ability to score in a lot of ways, not just shooting."

Asked what he's been working on, he noted, "Really, just working on my right hand. That’s what I’ve been doing these past few weeks. It’s a lot better than it was when I started my college career. That’s about it. Just working on my ballhandling, and I’ve been working on my footwork as well."

Young did not work out for the Celtics after being involved in a minor car accident. That didn't hurt his stock and Stevens suggested he ranked 11th on the coach's list of draft prospects this year.

Asked about coming to Boston, Young said: "Coming to this great organization, I’m going to be myself and really just attack the program and just give it my all. Every practice, every workout, really just help the team out, make myself better in the process."

Young said he roomed with Boston's other first-round pick, Marcus Smart, at the NBA draft combine in Chicago last month.

"The way he plays is just tough. That’s how Boston players are," said Young. "I feel like he fits in great with them. I’m tough like that, too. So I feel like me and him can bring that toughness together in the backcourt, it can create a lot of problems for the other team. He sees the floor well, he can score, and he’s just a great player overall."