Pitino brings two assistants, one with troubled past

Andrew Krammer

New Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino is bringing two of his assistant coaches to Minnesota from Florida International.

Mike Balado and Kimani Young were announced as assistant coaches Wednesday afternoon – five days after Pitino’s press conference that named him Tubby Smith’s successor.

Pitino hired Balado and Young to coach at FIU during his one-year stint with the Golden Panthers, when FIU won its most games since 1998. 

“Both of these guys played a huge part in our turnaround at Florida International,” Pitino said in a release. “They are well-respected within the coaching community as terrific recruiters and leaders of student-athletes.”

Both Balado and Young recruited for FIU, per the release. The Gophers likely have four open scholarships, as former Smith recruits Alvin Ellis and Alex Foster were reportedly released from their letters of intent.

Pitino said last Friday he is seeking “the right fit” for Minnesota’s needs on the court.

“We’re not just looking to fill scholarships,” Pitino said Friday.

According to Gopher Illustrated, Foster said he received a call from a Gophers assistant who said Minnesota was going to go in a different direction. So far, Balado and Young are the only two assistants to have been officially named.

Minnesota marks Balado’s sixth stop as an assistant coach and his second in a major conference. Balado was a graduate assistant at the University of Miami from 2008-09.

Young has one year of assistant coaching under his belt after leaving his post as athletics director of New Heights Youth, Inc., in 2012 to join Pitino at FIU. Young served as a scout and coach for Big Apple Basketball, Inc., from 2001-06.

Teague addresses Young’s felony

First-year athletics director Norwood Teague issued a statement regarding Young’s  criminal history shortly after he was announced as a Gophers assistant coach

Young was arrested for possession of 96 pounds of marijuana in 1999. He was sentenced to one year in federal prison for the felony.

“President Eric Kaler and I each spoke at length with College Presidents and Athletic Directors at schools employing Coach Young and received assurances that Kimani was a positive influence and leader for their programs and student-athletes,” Teague said in the statement. “Coach Young’s mistake, more than fourteen years ago, was an aberration in an otherwise positive and stable life. He has been an upstanding leader in every university community he has worked and lived since that time.”