A year ago at this time, fans of Oklahoma basketball weren’t just thinking of the coming football season, they were brimming with excitement over what Trae Young would mean for the upturn of Sooner basketball.
Everyone knew that Young was a prime catch for the Oklahoma’s men’s basketball program. After all, he was a five-star point guard out of high school with an extremely high national ranking and on the recruiting list for most all of the major college programs, including Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma in the Big 12.
The fact that he lived in Norman, Oklahoma, where he attended Norman North High School, and grew up attending and watching the Sooners play basketball was an emotional tug that weighed heavily in OU’s favor in landing the local hoops prodigy.
Young clearly did not disappoint. He was everything Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, himself once an exceptional college point guard, had expected and then some, breaking a number of OU freshman records along the way.
It was no secret that Young possessed outstanding shooting skills and extraordinary ability in distributing the basketball when he arrived at Oklahoma. What no one suspected, though, was that the Sooners’ sensational freshman would lead the nation in both scoring and assists. No college player had done that, at least not since 1983-84, which was the first year the NCAA began recording assists on a regular basis.
Some fans are still surprised at what Young was able to accomplish in just his first season of college basketball. Don’t count the OU super freshman among that group, however. He knows what he is capable of and plays with so much confidence that he is able to weather through the stormy patches in along the way.
It is true that the 2017-18 consensus First Team All-American will be going up against much better players in the NBA than what we faced in college, but it is also true that we will be playing with better players, which should help elevate Young’s basketball skills.
Young does not appear daunted at moving on to the next level. His confidence in his abilities and his mental makeup remain as strong as ever.
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The former Sooner star told Mark Kriegel of ESPN this week that he would like to replicate what he did this past season in college. “I want to lead the NBA in points and assists,” Young said.
“I don’t know where I’ll be,” he said, “but I want to do something that’s never been done, like I did this year in the college game…not just be another rookie, but do something that’s never been done before.”
Reaching a lofty goal like that, especially as an NBA rookie, seems to be a giant stretch, but we have seen bodacious accomplishments like this throughout Young’s basketball career. You certainly can’t doubt his ambition and his desire to dream big.
Veni, vidi, vici…The Latin phrase for “I came, I saw, I conquered.” That sums up Young’s brief time at OU, which amounted to a one-and-done single season. And now he’s gone, on to slay bigger and better foes in what has always been his ultimate dream: playing basketball in the NBA.
In a little more than 48 hours, the 2018 NBA Draft will take center stage on the sports calendar, and we will find out what the next chapter will be in Trae Young’s basketball career.
Will he be the top draft pick of the Dallas Mavericks, who have the No. 5 overall selection in Thursday’s draft? The Orlando Magic? The Chicago Bulls? Maybe even the Cleveland Cavaliers, or the New York Knicks?
Chances are it will be one of those five NBA franchises. Which one, though, is anyone’s guess. And, believe me, The plethora of mock drafts that are out there have him going to every team on that list, and even a couple more as a possibility.
Whichever team ultimately wins the services of the former Oklahoma star, get ready to welcome to the roster a player who says what he means and means what he says. And, oh yeah, can put the ball in the basket and in the hands of his teammates with the greatest of ease.