There is a new star taking college basketball by storm. Freshman Trae Young isn’t like some of the more recent stars in college hoops. Players like Ben Simmons, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, have a mix of size, length and athleticism that make their games stand out. The versatile 6’8”- 6’10” player has become the type of talent teams drool over. Trae Young stands at just 6’2”, but lets his game, not his size, overwhelm opponents.
Trae Young: Little Man with Big Game
His numbers through twelve games are incredible. Young is averaging 29.6 points and 10.7 assists per contest. The freshman from Norman, Oklahoma has captivated college basketball with his shooting ability, court vision, and his fearlessness. After a 15 point performance in his debut, Young has scored over 20 points in each game since. He had the Oklahoma Sooners sitting at 11-1 and leading the nation with 94 points per game.
One of the more common comparisons Trae Young has garnered during his freshman season is to Steph Curry. The two guards share a similar frame, and both have had to deal with doubt due to their size. Each of them has displayed as the willingness and ability to take and make shots from anywhere on the court. Young can pull up from just about anywhere past half court, and his jumper is as smooth as it is deadly. The freshman is shooting 47% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc. Trae Young has hit four or more threes in eight games this season. He had a season-high eight threes in a win over Northwestern just before conference play started.
The points continue to pile up for Young. He poured in a career-high 43 in a win over Oregon a few weeks ago. Only four of his 11 makes were from distance that night, showing that he can score in a variety of ways. This past weekend he put up 39 points and 14 assists in the conference opener, a road victory over previously unbeaten TCU. He has five 30 point games on the season.
20/20 Court Vision
While many see a lot of Curry in his game, there is another NBA legend whose game can be seen by watching Trae Young. There is an element of Steve Nash to him as well. Much like in the current NBA, much of Oklahoma’s offense runs directly through their star point guard. He controls the game, and pick and roll basketball is a huge part of their offense. Averaging 29 points or 10 assists in 40-minute college games is a feat in itself, to do both is unheard of. Young does it all. He sees the floor very well and is a skilled and willing passer.
Young has seven double-digit assist games already, including a ridiculous 22 assists against Northwestern State. He sees the floor and knows when and where to get the ball to his teammates. That ability from a freshman guard is special to watch. Things are made so much easier for everyone around him because he draws so much attention and opens the whole court up. He sees the floor so well on his drives to the basket, and can both finish and find open teammates with equal precision.
Despite a smaller frame, Trae Young will challenge anyone. Through 12 games, the freshman is getting to the free throw line nine times a game. Sometimes a player with his shooting ability from range will rely on that to get by and just stick to the perimeter. Young is not like that. He drives as much as he shoots from distance and can finish, draw contact, and find teammates for open buckets. In wins over Oregon and TCU, he got to the line 18 times each game. It doesn’t hurt that he makes 85% of his attempts from the charity stripe.
His fearless nature also shines through when the stage is the biggest. In six games versus Power five or ranked opponents, Trae Young is averaging 33 points and 9.5 assists per game. Oklahoma is 5-1 in those games. As Big 12 conference play heats up it will be fun to watch how defenses try to contain him. Do you allow him to score in bunches while limiting his teammates? Maybe double-teaming him to make him give up the ball is the answer. The likes of Bill Self, Shaka Smart, Bob Huggins, and Scott Drew will have their hands full trying to devise a way to slow him down.
Trae Young vs Everybody
There was so much talk coming into the season about the big time freshman big men. Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter Jr., Deandre Ayton, and Michael Porter Jr.;. are all locks to go early in this summer’s NBA draft. It is Trae Young who has stolen the show so far this season. His numbers and impact have been phenomenal. His match-up with fellow freshman point guard Colin Sexton of Alabama will be must-watch TV in a few weeks. So far this season, Trae Young’s mix of shooting ability, passing prowess, and fearlessness are making him a must watch on every night.
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