Nothing came easy for Tony Young as a standout guard at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, even while his college teams were making four straight trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Now the head basketball coach at East St. Louis High after two years on the coaching staff at St. Louis University, Young has instilled those high expectations while trying to inspire his players to success.
"I'm still just building the program," said Young, whose 5-2 team owns wins over Chicago Marshall, Decatur MacArthur, Springfield Southeast, Belleville East and Collinsville while losing to unbeaten Alton (59-57) and highly regarded Springfield Lanphier (73-58.
"At the college level, the way you prepare, the way you practice and the way you work ... the amount of time you get with those kids is totally different because that's the business of college basketball," Young said. "In high school you only get so much time with these kids. You work with the talent hat you have, you have to coach and alter the way you coach according to the kind of kids you have.
"With college, if you don't like the way your guards are you go out and get new guards."
So when the Flyers lost all-state guard Deshawn Munson, now averaging 12.2 points for the nation's sixth-ranked junior college team at Iowa Western, Young had no choice.
Someone had to step up.
He appears to have found his man in talented 6-foot-3 senior guard Darrion Beane, who missed time last season with a hip injury. Beane's 15.7-point average leads the Flyers and he's tied with for the team lead with eight 3-pointers.
"He's great, but he's one of those kids that doesn't get much press," Young said of Beane, who averaged 7.9 points in limited duty last season. "He's under the radar because last year he was injured. He had a chipped bone in his hip and was out for about eight weeks, then came back and helped us.
"You hear about a lot of the guards in the area, but he's putting up numbers just as good as anybody in our league right now. My job is to get these college coaches in to see him."
Even though Munson was more of a known commodity last season, Young said that recruiting process needed time to develop.
"I didn't have a junior college coach in my gym until after we won the Collinsville Tournament (last year)," Young said. "Then all of a sudden the kid runs off 15 triple-doubles in a row and you get a lot of colleges coming in on him. I think it's going to be a situation like that with Beane.
"Somebody's going to get a heck of a player. He's got a huge upside."
And as for Munson, Young predicted he will being playing "high major" basketball before his career ends.
Young is also working in several football players from the Flyers' long state playoff run to the semifinals, including massive junior Terry Beckner, Jr. (8.4 points and 9 rebounds per game) and others.
Six-foot-nine Jeremiah Tilmon (6.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, 13 blocks) remains one of the top freshmen in the state and figures to only keep improving.
Also contributing are senior Justin Smith (6.9 ppg), Dominic Nelson (6.2 ppg, 8 3-pointers), Karon Randolph (5.6 ppg) and Jesse Douglas (4.6 ppg).
"I'm extremely happy," Young said. "We're a work in progress, day by day, game by game we're getting better. None of our football players were here up until a week before our first game, so now you've got to work those guys into shape and get them back into basketball mode."
The Flyers have a freshman and three sophomores in the mix, but are seeded second at the prestigious Collinsville Schnucks Holiday Classic. They won the tourney a year ago.
"We're young and we're still learning, but we're going to get better," Young said.