ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - From the time that UCF women's basketball player Deaundra Young entered this world, it was prophesied that she would go on to become a force on the court.
Young, a transfer from Florida, played varsity all four years at Astronaut High School for coach Gregg Hostetler, who also coached her mother when she was a high school player. As fate would have it, Hostetler's daughter was born a day before Young.
"When we were born, he was quoted in an article saying that he had a new point guard and a new center," Young said. "We grew up and he did. We ended up winning the state championship in high school."
Young tallied 22 points and 17 rebounds in that state title game her junior year. Coming out of high school, Young was ranked the second best player in Florida, the eighth in the country for her position and 48th overall by HoopGurlz and ESPNU's top 100 recruits of 2010.
The Titusville, Fla., native said the recruiting process was the craziest experience of her life. She ultimately signed with Florida over Louisville, UCF and Florida State.
"I still have mail at my house in four or five shoe boxes, which are huge," said Young, who wears size 15 sneakers. "Growing up, I had always wanted to be a Gator, but I had three surgeries since I've been in college and I wanted to be a lot closer to home. And I love Coach Joi as a coach."
Young played in 26 games at Florida in her rookie year, scoring in all but four of them. She missed the final five games of the season due to a chronic condition of bilateral hidradenitis suppurativa, a painful skin condition in her underarms.
"I would have to get cut at the emergency room and then packed every time. It would be as big as a golf ball. I couldn't move as much as I wanted to," Young said. "I finally had surgery under both arms and had restricted range of motion."
The restricted range of motion prevented her from lifting her arms above her head, which in turn caused Young a new set of problems in her shoulders. She underwent a second surgery that attempted to reconstruct the area under her arms with skin from her back. The surgery gave her more range of motion, but she still attended therapy for her shoulders.
After the drama with her arms seemed to be under control, more bad news hit. Young had a bone spur on the top of her left foot from reoccurring sprains, so she underwent one more surgery to correct it.
"I had a breakdown. I was shaking in my room with anxiety. I went to my coaches and said I need to go home for the weekend," Young said. "I made a decision to transfer when I came back because every day I cried. I was so unhappy. When I transferred, it made everything easier.
"What made me get through it all was just praying and talking to my mom and having encouragement from her, from the staff here at UCF and my teammates. What really helped me, too, was thinking about my goal: I want to play in college. And I really haven't gotten to play at my healthiest in college. My goal is to get as healthy as I can by the time January comes."
Young transferred from Gainesville to Orlando midway through the 2011-12 season, so she will be eligible to suit up as a redshirt sophomore for the Knights in January. She longs to recapture the feeling she used to get every time she stepped out on to the floor at Astronaut.
"To play at my best, I can't even describe it in words," Young said. "I'm just filled with joy. I play to see my mom's face because I know she would love to be in my shoes. I do a lot for her and to make my family proud."