Trae Young: Is there a chance he could elect to stay another year?

LUBBOCK, TX - FEBRUARY 13: Trae Young /

Oklahoma’s Trae Young has been the talk and one of the big surprises of college basketball this season.

The Sooners’ sensational freshman broke multiple Oklahoma program and Big 12 records this season and becomes the only player in NCAA Division I history to lead the nation in both scoring and assists in the same season.

Related Story: Trae Young named to basketball writers' All-America First Team

In 32 games, Young averaged 27.4 points and 8.7 assists per game. He is only the second player from a major conference to score at least 800 points in a season in the past two decades. His 876 points this season is the most ever in a single season by a Big 12 player and breaks Wayman Tisdale’s OU’s freshman points record (810 in 1982-83) by 66 points.

In addition to Tisdale’s OU freshman points record, Young also blew away the Sooner records for made three-point field goals (118) and free throws made (236) and attempted (274).

Young dished out a nation-best 279 assists this season, just nine shy of the all-time record for a freshman. Bobby Hurley was credited with a record 288 assists for Duke in 1989-90.

The uber-talented OU freshman is a finalist or semifinalist for several major national awards this season, and rightfully so.

Young won’t stay around long enough to break career records at Oklahoma for scoring and assists. If he did, he most certainly would make a run at practically all of them.

The Oklahoma First-Team All-American now has a major decision to make. It is widely expected that Young will move on from the Sooners after this season and declare for the NBA Draft, where he is projected to be a top-10 selection.

In post-game interviews after the Sooners’ loss to Rhode Island on Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, was noncommittal, as you might expect, concerning his future, but he did acknowledge that he planned to talk it over with his family and go from there.

Oklahoma Sooners Basketball
Oklahoma Sooners Basketball /

Oklahoma Sooners Basketball

My freshman year is over now, and that chapter is done, Young told reporters. His response when asked what he was thinking about as he walked off the court, knowing it might be his last collegiate game: Right now, I’m just thinking about my teammates, he said.

Oklahoma loses just one player off its roster. Khadeem Lattin is the only senior. So even with Young, there wouldn’t be any reason to believe that the Sooners would be any better than they what they were this season. So winning a championship – in conference or otherwise – is probably out of the question.

That isn’t much of an incentive to want to return, no matter how much Young enjoys his Oklahoma teammates.

When former Sooner star Blake Griffin was faced with the same decision after his freshman year in 2007-08, he chose to return to school and play for one more season. Whether that made any difference in his NBA draft status is debatable, but by staying in college one more season, he was able secure the No. 1 overall draft position (selected by the Los Angeles Clippers with the first pick in the 2009 draft).

We would be remiss, though, if we didn’t acknowledge that there was another huge contributing factor why Griffin elected to return for another year at Oklahoma. It was an opportunity to play one more year with his older brother, Taylor, who was going to be a senior in 2008-09.

That won’t be a factor in Young’s decision process.

If I was to put odds on whether Young will stay or go, I’d say 85 percent that he will go, 15 percent that he will return. And that 15 percent is probably too high.

There is really no reason for Young to come back. Yes, it would allow him to get stronger and give him another year of experience to fine tune a few things, but there is also the risk of getting hurt or not performing at the same high level because he no longer is an unknown quantity and opponents have devised game plans to limit his touches and open looks.

There also is not much more for him to accomplish at Oklahoma. He already has won the national scoring title, been named a first-team All-American and broken most of the OU freshman records. And there is little or no chance that he is going to win a conference championship next season.

So where’s the beef? What’s the carrot?

Next: All-Time Oklahoma men's basketball team

Say goodbye to a great player, be thankful that we got to see him amaze on the hardwood, if only for one season at OU, and wish him well as he enters the next chapter of his career in the NBA, playing with much better players who better complement his extraordinary skills.