There hasn’t been much for basketball fans to cheer about in Norman, Oklahoma since Buddy Hield left for the NBA draft a year ago. The Sooners finished last season with only eleven wins and failed to make any postseason tournament. This season Oklahoma is off to a 5-1 start and are led by the most exciting freshman in college basketball, Trae Young, a native of Norman, and a player who is being compared to Warriors’ sharpshooter Steph Curry, despite only having played six games at the collegiate level.
During the PK80 this season, Young and the Sooners were matched up against Phil Knight’s alma mater Oregon, a team one season removed from a trip to the Final Four. The game was a dogfight back and forth and in the end, Oklahoma emerged victorious by a score of 90-80. Even more interesting than the upset were the stats that freshman phenom Trae Young had put up. In his best collegiate game to date, Young scored 43 points on 11 for 22 shooting. In the Sooners’ following game against North Texas, Young scored 33 points and had 10 assists.
Currently, Young leads division-1 basketball in scoring. He averages 28.8 points per game. If you take away the insane numbers, Young is still an electrifying player to watch. Most of the comparisons between Young and Steph Curry are because of the seemingly limitless range both players possess.
So far, Young is shooting .418 from behind the arc and while his 3-point shooting percentage isn’t absolutely eye-opening, the fact that he pulls up without hesitation from anywhere on the court is courageous to say the least. Another player who possessed limitless range during his college days is Jimmer Fredette, who Young is also being compared to. Fredette had a tendency to pull up for 30-foot jumpers and fake them like free throws. Fredette shot over 40 percent from behind the arc during his college career. However, the main difference between Young and Fredette, is Young’s passing ability. Young is an elite passer and has an incredible touch on his passes that set up teammates perfectly. The fact that Young has such a high basketball IQ and can pass so smoothly only elevates his draft stock because his opportunities to drive the lane will open up once defenses realize his ability to spread the floor. Young dazzles in the scoring column, but also averages 8.8 assists per game, which is good for third place currently in division-1.
The most enticing aspect of Young’s game is his opportunity to improve. As a freshman, Young is averaging 32 minutes per game and has already led his team to victory against strong opponents in the non-conference schedule. Whether or not Young can keep up these kind of stats during the conference season is still in question, but regardless, Young will pickup some valuable minutes in what will presumably be his only season as a Sooner.