Can Hometown Kid Trae Young Push Oklahoma Back to Contention in Big 12?
- Talented local product Trae Young is the kind of player that Oklahoma can build around as the Sooners look to get back into contention in the Big 12.
It should come as no surprise to college basketball fans that freshmen have come to possess a significant portion of the star power in the sport. Just look at this year’s NBA draft, where the first upperclassman was not selected until Duke sophomore Luke Kennard with 12th pick. So while some returning players will undoubtedly have a major impact in 2017–18 season, it’s important to get to know the new faces who may come to occupy the spotlight.
With that in mind, SI.com will be introducing you to the top 25 incoming freshmen in college basketball and breaking down the impact those players could have this season. We move to the No. 20 overall recruit, Oklahoma's Trae Young. (Note: Young was ranked No. 19 in the composite before Marvin Bagley III’s reclassification bumped every freshman in the country down a peg.
What he means for Oklahoma’s recruiting class
Young is Oklahoma’s best recruit by a wide margin and the only Sooners commit among the top 100 players on RSCI’s list. A 6' 2", 170-pound point guard, Young is a local kid out of Norman North High School, and his presence will give the Sooners a much-needed boost; other than him, they have just one four-star player (6' 7" forward Brady Mannek) and one three-star (Finnish center Hannes Polla). In fact, Young is Oklahoma’s first five-star recruit since big man Tiny Gallon in 2010.
How he fits
Young is the centerpiece of Oklahoma’s 32nd-ranked recruiting class. An intriguing scoring threat from the one—he’s put up 20 points in all four games of the Sooners’ overseas tour so far—he could stick around Norman for several seasons and potentially be a piece for Lon Kruger & Co. to build around. We all remember what happened the last time the Sooners had a top-rated guard: Buddy Hield grew into a star and led his team to a Final Four in his senior season. Young should see plenty of playing time early on, and watching him develop as an offensive force should be fun.
After a Final Four run two years ago, Oklahoma regressed sharply last season, finishing 11–20 overall and 5–13 in Big 12 play. But with a young roster, that was largely to be expected, and now, with added experience and a veteran coach, expectations are looking up. Snagging a five-star point guard certainly doesn’t hurt things, and if Young plays up to expectations, he could be the piece that pushes the Sooners toward contention in the Big 12.