Longtime Oklahoma sports radio/TV host Greg Swaim has been monitoring the recruitment of Norman North scoring machine Trae Young for several years.
So it was probably fitting he was the first to provide a Twitter take this week concerning the 6-foot-2 Young’s upcoming weekend recruiting visit to Kansas.
“Rayford Young scored 40 on #KUbball in a 1999 game. I’m sure all would be forgiven by KU fans if they were to get his son — Trae Young,” Swaim tweeted Tuesday.
Yes, it’s all but certain KU basketball fans would bury memories of former Texas Tech standout Rayford Young’s 41-point explosion in a 90-84 victory over the Jayhawks on Feb. 13, 1999, in Lubbock, if Rayford’s son ultimately chose KU over Oklahoma, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Washington.
Trae Young, in Rayford-like fashion, set an Oklahoma Class 6A scoring record by totaling 60 points against Yukon last season in a game in which he drilled 12 of 15 threes. As a junior, he also had 51- and 50-point outings against El Reno and Stillwater, respectively, and averaged 33.4 points a game for state runner-up North (24-4).
“In the Yukon game he took deep shots with people hanging on him,” Norman North coach Bryan Merritt told the Tulsa World after Young was chosen the paper’s 2015-16 state player of the year. He also was tapped The Oklahoman’s large-school player of the year.
“His shooting range — it’s Steph Curry stuff. One of the best things you can do is imitate somebody great,” Merritt added.
Young — who had 16 assists to go with 17 points in an AAU game for Mokan Elite last May in Lawrence — wouldn’t touch the Curry comparison in a media session after that 89-40 victory over Michigan Select.
“I’m not there yet,” Trae Young said. “I’m working to be at that level, hopefully to be as good as him, even better.”
He told the Tulsa World: “I like to pick parts of the games of several players — Kyrie Irving, Tony Parker, Steve Nash, and Steph is definitely my favorite player right now. He’s changing the game.”
Folks in Oklahoma can only imagine how many points Young will amass his senior year at Norman North.
“He’s probably the best scorer in the country as a guard. He’s the best scorer I saw this summer,” said Swaim, who also hosts youth basketball tournaments and camps and has had his own recruiting service since 1988.
“The thing about Trae is he’s a point guard but also can really score, which makes you have to come after him (defensively). His defense is good. Everybody’s defense needs to get better.
“He’s terrific. He’s also kept a level head through this whole thing. It’s going to last longer because he’s going to wait to sign in April,” Swaim added, noting Young, who is ranked No. 14 in the recruiting class of 2017 by Rivals.com and has extensive experience with USA Basketball, should be a lock to make the McDonald’s All-America game.
Young, who has said he wants to announce his college choice in December and sign in the spring, has already visited Oklahoma, Kentucky and Texas Tech. A visit to Oklahoma State is also likely, sometime after this weekend’s trip to KU. He’s also had Washington on his list. Mokan Elite teammate and good friend Michael Porter has orally committed to Washington.
“Coach (Bill) Self has been in contact with me since my sophomore summer, so he’s been on me forever. I mean it’s a blue blood. I mean it’s not too far from home. And it’s in the Big 12 Conference. So I mean, I love the way they play and the way he utilizes his guards as well,” Young said of KU in a recent interview with Scout.com.
Young’s parents made the trip to Kentucky last weekend and are slated to be in Lawrence this weekend as well. KU fans that run into Rayford Young may be impressed by the information the 5-11 guard scored 1,525 points in 108 games at Tech during 1996-2000.
“He (Rayford) has had a great impact on me, just keeping my head on straight, keeping my focus where it needs to be and always being there to support me,” Trae told the Tulsa World. “He’s always been my biggest fan but also my biggest critic, too, and that has helped me.”
Gak to visit this weekend
Deng Gak, a 6-10, 210-pound senior from Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J., who is ranked No. 91 by Rivals.com, will make an official recruiting trip to KU this weekend.
Gak — he was born in Cairo, Egypt, then moved to South Sudan and finally Sydney, Australia, where he lived most of his life — recently narrowed his list to KU, Miami and Florida according to Zagsblog.com.
Gak plans to sign with a school during the Nov. 9-16 early signing period.
“Bill Self is one of the best coaches in college basketball. He always has his squad in contention for a national title,” Gak told Zagsblog.com. “I also like the huge development that their players make in their individual games, e.g. Joel Embiid).”
Here’s a report on Gak on his profile page at ESPN.com:
“Gak is loaded with upside and natural talent. He’s athletic and agile for his size, quick off his feet and able to cover the court effortlessly. He has excellent size for the four-spot, runs the floor well and has very large hands. His skill set at his age and size is as impressive as his physical tools. He has a very soft shooting touch facing the basket, is already a consistent threat to 18 feet and projects as a guy who will develop into a three-point threat. He can put the ball on the floor a couple of times and also seems to have a passing instinct as well. Gak is a high-level student who is said to be hard-working with very high character.”
Listed as weaknesses on the ESPN profile: “He only arrived in the United States in the fall of 2015 and so his body is still undeveloped. While his natural build is on the lean side, his frame is sound and should fill out adequately down the road. Like most international players, adjusting to the speed and physicality of the American game is a process that will take Gak some time. He can lose balance vs. contact, isn’t always as assertive as he should be, sometimes lays balls in that he should dunk and could be more forceful on the glass, but all of that should change in time.
“He needs to continue to get stronger and more aggressive but his talent level and ceiling are both undeniable with his size, athletic tools and still evolving skill set,” the profile read.
Sexton to visit Bama again
Collin Sexton, a 6-1 senior guard from Pebblebrook High in Mableton, Ga., will take an unofficial visit to Alabama this weekend, according to Rivals.com. Sexton, who is ranked No. 7 nationally by Rivals, has a list of KU, Alabama, North Carolina State and Oklahoma State.
Bragg on watch list
KU sophomore forward Carlton Bragg has been announced as one of 20 candidates for the 2017 Karl Malone power forward of the year award, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Thursday.
Others on the list: Lauri Markkanen, Arizona; Ivan Rabb, California; Amile Jefferson, Duke; Jonathan Isaac, Florida State; Yante Maten, Georgia; Robert Carter, Maryland; Dedric Lawson, Memphis; Miles Bridges, Michigan State; Isaiah Hicks, North Carolina; Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame; Michael Young, Pittsburgh; Caleb Swanigan, Purdue; Tyler Lydon, Syracuse; T.J. Leaf, UCLA; Bennie Boatwright, USC; Alec Peters, Valparaiso; Kris Jenkins, Villanova; Austin Nichols, Virginia; and Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin.
The winner will be announced at the ESPN College Basketball Awards on April 7 in Los Angeles.