The Sooner Intel, created by Bob Przybylo in 2011, is an inside look into Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting and is solely for Sooners Illustrated subscribers. It is a sneak peek into what’s happening with OU recruiting and is not to be distributed anywhere else.
The center of the Oklahoma recruiting world for the next week is on the hardwood and not the gridiron. Yes, for the first time in a long time, what Sooners fans want more than ever is to land that five-star basketball talent. A realistic five-star talent that could pick OU.
Norman (Okla.) North point guard Trae Young, ranked No. 21 in the Scout 100 and a McDonald’s All-American, is set to decide Thursday afternoon between OU, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Texas Tech and Kentucky at the Norman North gym.
Young has been adamant in the last couple of weeks of saying it’s a three-team race. Dig deeper, though, and it feels like a two-team race between the Sooners and Jayhawks.
If you needed more proof neither side is giving in an inch, look at Tuesday night. Just a by-the-numbers regular season game against Moore High, there were two intriguing spectators sitting side-by-side.
OU coach Lon Kruger and KU coach Bill Self. It was less than 10 days away from the announcement when the two arrived, it shows the sense of urgency and sense of hope in both to be back at Norman North.
For Self, it was a day after a grueling rivalry win at Kansas State on Monday evening. For Kruger, it was taking time off in the midst of a then-five-game losing streak that turned to six with a loss to West Virginia on Wednesday.
Young has been as tight-lipped as it gets in terms of naming favorites. What Young has admitted how much of a grind the recruiting process has been for him the last couple of years and especially the last couple of months, last couple of weeks.
He’s ready to be done with the process, and the Sooners are banking on keeping the hometown hero in Norman.
Speaking to numerous sources, and you understand a couple of things. No. 1, OU coaches Lon Kruger and Chris Crutchfield feel incredibly confident heading into next week.
Need evidence? For one thing, there has been zero talk of any 2017 point guard offers in play for the Sooners. OU basketball is not KU. If OU misses out on Young, there is going to be a massive scramble to find a viable point guard.
And if they thought for a second that it wasn’t going to happen, should already be knocking on those doors to see what it can turn over.
KU can wait this out. The Jayhawks are eyeing another five-star point guard in Trevon Duval. Though at this time, most believe Duval will head to Duke. What if KU turned all of its energy toward Duval if missing out on Young? Could that turn the tide?
It’s a tough question to answer, but it’s one you could answer in an emphatic no when it comes to the Sooners. No, Kruger and OU couldn’t simply pick up the pieces and find another Scout 100 prospect that would realistically come to Norman.
So OU is taking the chance because Young is worth that gamble. Watch Young play, and he has all the tools to be successful at the next level. And is that missing ingredient for the Sooners.
Kruger and Crutchfield knew about Young way back when, and if you had to ask them to land Jordan Woodard in 2013 and pass the torch to Trae Young in 2017, they’d take it in a heartbeat.
It’s what they wanted. But hard to plan for until you look at OU’s recruiting.
Ever since signing Woodard in the 2013 class, it’s easy to point out the way OU has recruited the position. A junior college kid in Dinjiyl Walker. A stop-gap to get from Woodard-to-Young.
The first real concern was Payton Pritchard. A Scout 100 prospect for the 2016 class, he originally committed to OU. It was a sign that maybe OU wasn’t going to play the waiting game for Young. It would have been incredibly difficult for OU to be anything more than a token finalist for Young if Pritchard was in Norman.
But he’s not. Pritchard elected to stay closer to home and has been sensational for the Ducks as a true freshman. It’s that type of impact OU fans are hoping from Young, of course, if the Sooners are the choice.
Instead of Pritchard, OU went the junior college route again with Darrion Strong-Moore and a late add in the high school ranks of Jordan Shepherd. Quality depth, not a deterrent in the Young pursuit.
Adding pivotal pieces was key, though. Young can’t be a one-man savior. And if you look at OU’s roster, he wouldn’t have to be.
Freshmen Kameron McGusty and Kristian Doolittle are playing like the top recruits they were. McGusty holds the honor of being OU’s highest-ranked recruit under Kruger. We’re seeing why.
Then there are the role players of Rashard Odomes, Christian James and Khadeem Lattin. No, they’re not stars. But as they’ve figured out where they can excel, it fits perfectly with Young.
Nobody is fighting with Young. They all add to the collective whole instead of a budding competition that could lead to friction.
Kansas sources are feeling less and less confident of Young heading to Lawrence. Doesn’t mean he won’t, but despite the incredibly down year for Kruger and the Sooners, OU is still in it. There’s a reason for that.
The Sooners have the pieces for the 2017-18 season. All that’s missing is the point guard. That final piece is Trae Young.
(Sooners Illustrated will watch Young for the fourth time this season as Norman North plays Edmond Memorial on Friday evening).