Behind The Scenes With Trae Young

The four star point guard visited Duke on Sunday and came away with an offer. He and his family also asked several tough questions of Coach K. Those answers were shared with TDD by Young's father as the family headed home on Sunday night.

Your son has had quite the spring and summer this year—what are your thoughts on seeing the rise in recruitment this year?

Ray Young, father of Trae Young: Yeah it’s a blessing for sure. Trae’s always been a really good player, I’ve just kinda kept him away from traveling very much until the last couple of years. He’s with a great organization out there with Mokan in the EYBL, he’s got a really, really good coach there. It’s kinda let him showcase his game, he’s not really the type of player that he just rolls it out there and goes haywire, and his AAU team has a really good organization and they showcase the way he plays. It’s been a blessing.

Did you ever imagine it would get to the level it’s gotten for Trae with the college opportunities he has now?

Well I mean I always hoped it would happen and I kinda thought it would happen by the time he was a senior, but I didn’t think it would happen so young. Since I was blessed to play for awhile when I was younger and even professionally, I know a lot of the coaches, I’ve got relationships with them anyways, so I always knew he was going to be on the radar, I just didn’t think we would be pulling the trigger so early.

Does that change what your’s and Trae’s plan is at all towards how you are dealing with the coaches and the different opportunities he has?

Yeah at the end of the day, we don’t want to waste our time and we don’t want to waste any of the coaches time. He’s just not going to be taking a ton of calls from everybody everyday. You know June 15th got really crazy, and Coach K and Coach Capel told me that it would would, but man it’s been ringing off the hook. What Trae and I are going to do is sit down and get to about 15 schools, dwindle it down to there and then make the best decision that we can with it.

With you mentioning Coach K and Coach Capel—it sounds like you had been talking with them prior to June 15...

Yeah, I’ve known Coach Capel for awhile anyways, I live in Norman, Oklahoma and when he coached at OU, Trae was a ball boy for him. Coach Capel has always kinda known about Trae, they just wanted to see him on this level. Soon as they did, he was ready to pull the trigger. And you know, Duke does things so differently, we spent like 4 hours up there just talking about everything, about life, walking around campus and Coach K really likes to do things face to face. He could have called Trae and said we like, we want you, but he wanted us to know that they are only likely to offer in the 2017 class maybe two point guards at most because Duke doesn’t really offer too many kids because you have to be a certain type of kid and a certain type of family that they want to be a part of their family. It’s kinda surreal to be honest with you.

How so?

Just because it’s Duke, with all the camps and stuff, we just got back from NBPA Top 100 Camp, we had Pangos last week, I got a call from Sean Miller, Sean Miller wants to visit with Trae and come out to Arizona for a visit. You are talking about big time schools and big time coaches and he’s only going into his junior year. You want to be glad that all of this is happening, but at the same time, you have to keep working because now Trae has always been the hunter, but now he’s going to be the hunted.

You mentioned being with the Duke coaches for over 4 hours—what stood out to you guys both about the school and the program and the interactions with the coaches?

They were telling us about the school and the history which of course I already knew some of the history. Then we just spent some time getting to know those guys and going through the locker room, going through different things on the inside of the basketball facility. Then we sat down with Coach K and talked about living in Oklahoma and then we talked about Coach K being involved with USA Basketball and coaching guys like KD, LeBron and his history with not only coaching college guys but NBA guys as well. I asked him some questions about is he going to be here and he said that he feels really good and he wants to be there and he wants to win 2 or 3 more championships. That was good stuff for Trae to hear and it made him feel good about the visit and feel good about Coach K. We just sat there and talked forever. We talked about my playing days and coaches that I know and coaches that Coach K knows, trying to build that relationship. The main thing I remember from the visit is that kids that go to Duke, Coach K really wants to have a great relationship with them and that’s why they don’t offer 10, 15 or 20 kids because it’s hard to build a great relationship with 10 or 15 or 20 kids. That’s something I really took to heart because right after we left, him and Trae were texting each other and kinda starting that relationship with each other and talking. Not to say that Trae will go to Duke or that they will still want him in 2 years, but just starting that conversation was great.

You asking Coach K about whether he was going to be there when Trae goes to school—was that a question or source of concern that you and Trae had going into the visit?

Well no, I don’t think that’s a source of concern for Trae at all. Just as a dad, that’s a question that I have to ask. I live in Norman, Oklahoma and I watch OU play every year and I ask Coach Kruger the same thing. SMU has offered Trae as well and I asked him the same thing, so that’s just a question I ask all the teams’ coaches because I think it’s an important question.

For some families who have that kind of question for coaches—that can signify a desire to wait for the college decision to be made until much closer to the end of his high school career—is that a possibility for Trae?

No, I don’t think so at all because quite honestly no matter what, Duke University is going to be in good hands no matter whether Coach K is there or not. Even though I would love for Trae to play for Coach K if he decided to, I think he’ll still have a great opportunity with the education you can get from Duke and the networking and all that. It’s just like Coach K said today that the University is bigger than him, it’s Duke University and then Coach K is what he said.

Did Coach K extend a formal scholarship offer today to Trae?

Yeah oh yeah. That was the whole purpose of the visit because Coach K likes to do things in person and he likes the kids to be able to look him in the eye and for him to look them in their eyes and say, “I’m offering you a scholarship and I want you know that I want you to be my point guard after you graduate high school and I would like for you to accept if you want to.” One thing I really liked that he said was, “there’s no pressure. You don’t have to accept this now or tomorrow, you have an offer from Duke.”

How did you and Trae react to that?

You know, it’s Duke, we didn’t start screaming and hollering because Trae is really for 16 years old, he’s a really mature kid. Trae looked at him and said thank you and that he really appreciated it. Now we’re going to go home and pray and talk about it as a family and one thing this is going to do for him is it’s going to make him realize that he has to work that much harder. When you get an offer like that, not to downplay any other schools, but when you get an offer from Duke—it really says something. Now it’s time to get that much better because the spotlight is going to get even bigger.

What are your thoughts on the potential situation for Trae as a person and player at Duke now that the firm offer is on the table?

We’re going to watch it closely, Trae loves Coach K and he really loves Coach Capel. When he got in the car after, he said that Duke is definitely one of the top schools on his list, no question about it. I think the important thing to look at now is who is going to be there next year and the next couple of years.

Are you more looking at what the potential guard situation is shaping up to be at Duke with looking at who is potentially going to be there next few years?

Yeah, from a point guard perspective. I don’t know if you know or not, but him and Michael Porter want to go play together in college and he also wants to talk with him because he hasn’t had a chance to talk with Michael about that yet. I know Michael is very excited about meeting Coach K, he was actually supposed to go today but he couldn’t change his flight, so he’s going to meet with Coach K as well. I know he’s excited because he holds a scholarship offer from Duke as well and Trae was just waiting to sit down with Coach K to get his.

Has Duke laid out for you guys where they are at with their recruiting plans in the 2016 and 2017 classes at this point?

Oh yeah, so basically they have only offered 4, maybe 5 kids, they probably aren’t going to offer any more this year unless they completely blow them away. They’ve offered Wendell Carter, Austin Wiley another big kid, Gary Trent Jr who is another good friend with Trae and Michael Porter, Jr. That’s 5 kids in the 2017 class and they haven’t offered any other point guards as of yet. They may offer one more, Coach K said he’s not sure but they don’t have any plans as of right now. The other thing is with the 2016 class, they are really trying to get Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles and that’s their really big focus right now to get those guys which with my son, that doesn’t really affect him because they aren’t point guards. The kids that are really affecting him—the kid going in from Findley Prep, Derryck Thornton, of course Trae knows about him, he’ll be a freshman there next year. He’ll have two years under his belt by the time Trae gets there, so who knows if he will be gone to the NBA or if he will be there another year. Coach K seems to think that he’s going to be a pro, no matter if it takes him 1 year or 4 years or if it takes him 1 or 2, he thinks he’s going to be a pro at some point. So Trae is going to be taking a look at that and hopefully the opportunity will be there for him to step in when he leaves and run the show if he decides to go.

Based on that, do you guys have any potential concerns from a depth chart perspective for Trae at Duke?

No, I went through this when I was younger, the main thing he can focus on is getting better, learning the game and whenever the time comes that you are ready. I really don’t have any concerns right now and I think Trae just feels blessed to have the scholarship offer from Duke. With that being said, i don’t have any concerns. There’s nothing to be concerned about right now, if you call me in a year I may have concerns haha, but as of June whatever today is, for a 16 year old with two years of high school left, his main concern is to get better and stay humble.

So at this point do you guys feel Trae has all the scholarship offers he’s looking for—or are there more he’s hoping for before the process concludes

Yeah it doesn’t, I’ll be with honest with you that nothing else really matters. When you’ve got offers from Duke and Arizona and in our own backyard we’ve got OU and Oklahoma State and Texas. Shaka Smart has really been in contact with Trae a lot as well. With those schools, there’s really nothing else left.

From a timeframe perspective has anything changed in Trae’s process now that he has all those offers, or does he still have an approximate timeframe when he’s looking to wrap up his process?

Well right now he’s getting ready for the Peach Jam, then he’s going to try and win that, then we’re going to try and sit down with Michael Porter Sr. and his son and talk about the schools that they like and the schools that we like and kinda whittle it down. Like I said, there’s no reason to waste time with these schools. We’re going to sit down after the July evaluation period and make the decision on how to whittle it down.I don’t see him taking too many more unofficial visits, he still needs to go to Arizona, then maybe out to Stanford, out to Austin, but for the most part there won’t be very many more unofficials.

Based on that timeframe—do you expect a decision from Trae before junior year?

Yeah, before the season. Like I said, I don’t want to make too many decisions for Trae because at the end of the day, it’s his decision and I know him and Michael really want to play together, so I want those guys to talk and figure out what they want to do. Once I hear from them about that, then I’ll guide him on what’s a potential good idea or a bad idea.

In closing—any final thoughts on the take-aways from the Duke visit for you guys?

Yeah, he’s got a really great relationship with Coach Capel already from being a ball boy at OU and to be able to sit down with Coach K and talk with him for a long time, it was something that we really felt blessed to hear and he’s just excited.

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