NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Trae Young is picking up admirers with every dynamic performance for No. 17 Oklahoma.
Check out this testimonial from Northwestern coach Chris Collins.
“I had the opportunity to coach Kyrie Irving at the same age, and he was similar like that before he got hurt,” Collins said, remembering a younger version of the NBA All-Star. “There was just a maturity to his game that he had. He knew how to change speeds. He looked like a veteran from day one and that’s how Trae is out there. He plays at his pace. He knows where he wants to go.
“He looks like he really enjoys playing with these guys. It’s really fun to watch but not fun to play against.”
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Young burned Collins’ Wildcats for 25 points and 10 assists in the first half of a 104-78 win on Friday. The freshman finished with 31 points and 12 assists.
It was another stellar night in a string of big games for the 6-foot-2 guard, who is bringing his hometown team back to national prominence. The Sooners struggled to an 11-20 record a year ago, but they look more like the team that went to the 2016 Final Four at the moment.
Young leads the nation in scoring and assists. The Norman North High graduate has the locals buzzing, too. Friday night’s crowd of 11,259 was the biggest for a non-conference game at the Lloyd Noble Center since 2008, when Blake Griffin played for the Sooners.
“When you’re winning, that’s the main thing,” he said. “This is fun. The crowd, it’s continuing to grow. They played a huge, huge role tonight. The way we jumped out right out the gates, you can just tell — this is the best time to be a Sooner.”
Young scored 43 points in a win over Oregon. He had 29 points and 10 assists in a win over then-No. 3 Wichita State and 29 points and nine assists in a victory against then-No. 25 Southern California. But he really captured the attention of college basketball fans across the country when he tied an NCAA record with 22 assists against Northwestern State on Tuesday. He also had 26 points in the 105-68 win.
“Obviously Trae’s ability to dictate and attack from the backcourt — that frees up a lot of other people,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “Trae is shooting the ball well. Guys are comfortable making the extra pass. Moving the ball well. Good spacing. Making good basketball plays. They have done a good job of that.”
Young shoots out beyond 25 feet with ease. He is fast and quick with rare court vision. It adds up to one difficult package for opponents.
“With how deep he can shoot it from, you have to extend out on him, and then it just opens the floor,” Collins said. “He does a great job. He changes speeds well and he is shifty. And so the moment you are kind of a little off balance, he does a great job getting into your body and kind of playing off your movements. He’s got incredible vision. I always knew he was an incredible scorer. But the one thing I think he is underrated is his ability to pass. I thought he made some great passes and found guys.”
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