High-scoring Norman (Okla.) North senior point guard Trae Young, the No. 14-rated prospect in the recruiting Class of 2017 according to Rivals.com, will announce for either Kansas, Oklahoma or Oklahoma State on Thursday in a noon ceremony at his high school gymnasium.
Young, who averages 43.1 points, 5.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds a game for the Timberwolves (15-4), eliminated Kentucky, Washington and his dad’s alma mater, Texas Tech, in a roundtable discussion with his parents this week — one that was chronicled by USA Today.
“People have no idea how tough these decisions are. It’s not an easy thing to do. This decision kind of shapes your life,” the 6-foot-2 Young told USA Today.
It’s been considered a KU-OU battle for some time now, though ESPN.com indicated Wednesday that Oklahoma State hasn’t given up, and in fact visited with Young to make a final pitch in the past few days.
Young and his parents — Candice and former Texas Tech standout Rayford — visited KU on Oct. 21-23.
“Coach (Bill) Self makes it clear that I’ll be playing Frank Mason’s role,” Trae Young told ESPN.com. Mason, the Big 12’s leading scorer, will graduate after this season.
“So the players around me wouldn’t make a difference (if he chooses KU), because I’ll be in the same position as Frank. Also, that I’ll be playing on the biggest stage of college basketball. Sold-out crowds every night.”
Yet, to USA Today, Trae appeared a bit concerned guard Devonté Graham might return for a senior season and NBA prospect Malik Newman, a transfer guard from Mississippi State, would be eligible next season, two things he “would have to think about” in terms of playing time.
Young’s dad in Tuesday’s USA Today story was quoted as saying to Trae: “Well, in my opinion, Kansas is the school you need to go to. You’ve got the best of both worlds: Blue blood and close proximity so we can come see you play. You’ll have Billy Preston, Devonté Graham, Udoka Azubuike, Malik Newman, Lagerald Vick … You’ll be playing deep in March.”
Still, Oklahoma remains a strong possibility for Young, who erupted for a career-high 62 points in a recent win over Edmond High.
“Coach (Lon) Kruger has been there from day one. He saw his potential from day one,” Candice Young, Trae’s mom, said in the USA Today article. “There is absolutely a comfort in knowing that he saw his potential for so long and he’s stayed with him and watched him realize that potential. If we lived in Kansas, I’d say the same about Bill Self, but we live here. That’s how I feel.”
Of the concern that Kruger has not coached one-and-dones or two-and-dones, Trae said: “He developed Buddy Hield! He averaged three points a game as a freshman. If he would’ve averaged 17 points his freshman year I guarantee it wouldn’t have taken him four years to leave. He (Kruger) said he’d turn over the keys to the program to me not when the season started, but on June 1. I liked that.”
Rivals.com national analyst Eric Bossi has heard a lot of buzz about Oklahoma lately.
“The rumor mill has been all over the place on Young for the last month or so, but over the past few weeks Oklahoma has been emerging as the school that seems to be the hottest with Young at the right time,” Bossi wrote Wednesday. “ … I won’t be surprised if Young ends up picking Kansas, but I think he ends up staying home at Oklahoma because of the lure of being ‘the’ guy from day one and the face of a program looking to rebuild after a down season.”
One thing is for sure, coaches at KU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would love to corral Young, who averaged 27 points, 7.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds in eight games — all victories — for MOKAN Elite last summer at the Peach Jam AAU event in Atlanta.
“He is everything you want in a guard. He has size. He has handles. He can shoot. He is ultracompetitive. He’s a guy that would have an impact on the program immediately. He’s the complete package,” said Shay Wildeboor, who has covered recruiting for Rivals.com and Jayhawkslant.com the entire 14-year Bill Self era.
“His range is unlimited,” added Wildeboor.
Young, in fact has been compared to Golden State Warrior phenom Steph Curry because of his ability to hit three-pointers well beyond the arc.
“He’s a scorer,” Wildeboor said.
KU has signed a pair of players in the Class of 2017 in Preston, a 6-9 forward from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., who is ranked No. 8 nationally by Rivals.com, and No. 37-ranked Marcus Garrett, 6-5 from Dallas Skyline High.
Also, the Jayhawks have landed a transfer in Sam Cunliffe, a 6-6 guard from Seattle who played at Arizona State in the first semester this season and will be eligible to play in games as a sophomore at the conclusion of first-semester classes next season.
KU is also recruiting guard Trevon Duval, a 6-2 senior from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., who is ranked No. 3 nationally by Rivals.com. Duval has a list of KU, Duke, Arizona, Baylor and Seton Hall.
“If Young pledges to Kansas, the Jayhawks would obviously move up several spots in the rankings, maybe even into the top 10,” writes ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, who currently has KU’s class ranked No. 23 nationally. “They would be one of just four programs with multiple five-star recruits in the 2017 class, joining Duke, Kentucky and Alabama.
“If Young doesn’t pick Kansas, Self will have to put all his efforts into landing Trevon Duval, the top guard in 2017. The Jayhawks aren’t really involved with any other ESPN 100 prospects, so missing on both Young and Duval could keep the Jayhawks out of the top 20 classes for the first time since 2011.”
Mason a finalist for Senior CLASS Award
KU senior Frank Mason has been selected as one of 10 finalists for the 2016-17 Senior CLASS Award.
To be eligible for the award, which will be presented at the 2017 Final Four, players must be classified as NCAA Division I seniors and have notable achievements in community, classroom, character and competition.
The 10 finalists were chosen by a national media from a list of 30 candidates announced in January.
Other finalists are Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson; Evan Bradds, Belmont; Josh Hart, Villanova; Josh Hawkinson, Washington State; Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin; Amile Jefferson, Duke; Peter Jok, Iowa; Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga; and Tim Kempton, Lehigh.