And then there were three. Officially three. For a while the speculation has been Norman (Okla.) North point guard Trae Young is down to three schools.
Now we know it’s Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or Kansas. The five-star prospect ranked No. 21 in the Scout 100 is going to stay in the Big 12 when he picks noon CST on Thursday at Norman North.
Young and his family broke down the situation with each school with USA Today on Tuesday. But in trying to dig deeper, here are reasons why Young could be a Sooner, Jayhawk or Cowboy and why he won’t be heading to Norman, Lawrence or Stillwater.
Why the Sooners: Because the pieces fit perfectly for Young to be that missing link. Not a one-man savior, but a missing link.
You look at OU’s recruitment of the point guard position, and all roads lead to the Sooners waiting for Young to become that guy Thursday.
If he does, has a nice nucleus around him. Maybe not the one at Kansas, but a solid one consisting of guard Kameron McGusty and forward Kristian Doolittle to go with veterans Rashard Odomes and Khadeem Lattin.
McGusty is the highest-ranked recruit Lon Kruger has landed at OU. It would be a shot in the arm to top that ranking the very next year with Young.
Add in the comfort level Young and his family have with Kruger and OU being there from the start, Sooners make sense.
It’s Mama Young’s, Candice Young’s, clear No. 1 choice. Mom knows best?
And Baker Mayfield.
Why it’s not OU: Young wants to go somewhere to win and to contribute in that winning in a meaningful way. Can you always say that’s realistic at OU? Following Life After Buddy (Hield), the Sooners took a major step back.
Yes, one was anticipated but not like this. OU fell so hard that it makes you question the development of some of these guys when Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler were around.
The roster doesn’t suggest suffering two seven-game losing streaks in a season yet that’s exactly what occurred.
Young won’t be a part of a rebuilding project and wants to make it to the NBA. Is Norman really the spot for that to be done?
Why the Cowboys: Because what Brad Underwood is doing will pale in comparison to what he does. He had to clean up a pretty big mess after Travis Ford, and Underwood could somehow potentially take a team to the tournament that was once 0-6 in conference play.
What that speaks to is development and adjustments. Knowing your personnel and how to make it all click even when it didn’t feel like it would initially.
OSU has a solid group of guys, including former Norman North teammate Lindy Waters. And though Underwood had to make up for lost time, OSU is clearly trending in the right direction.
Why it’s not OSU: Not sure the style of play is exactly what Young is going to want or need to succeed at the college level. You watch Young in high school and see someone who loves to get up-and-down the floor and not sure that’s the call in Stillwater.
Underwood is going to have to show he can take players from college and bring them to the NBA. Feels like it’s an unfair criticism for a first-year coach, but the NBA is always the ultimate goal and is 100 percent for Young.
Think the biggest thing working against OSU is simply the fact it has felt like it’s down to OU and Kansas for a while. OU knows the score, went through this in football with five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson. You can do everything right, but still not end up in that final two.
Why it’s the Jayhawks: Because it’s KU, enough said. Really when you look at what Young values going forward, all the boxes get checked.
Every single one of them. Able to take players to the NBA. Able to develop players who don’t have to be one-and-dones and make the league. The tradition, although not a huge drawing point, goes without saying.
Head coach Bill Self has been there for a long time and has developed a meaningful relationship with Young and family.
Why it’s not KU: Can’t guarantee that Young doesn’t get lost in the shuffle in Lawrence. It’s great to have a bunch of four-star, top 100 players side-by-side but not all of them pan out.
And while KU has done an exceptional job of getting players to the NBA, when was the last time KU took a point guard to that type of level?
Not being a top dog isn’t a huge deterrent for Young, but you know he wants to feel like he was vital to the team’s success. So much talent in Lawrence that, even though not afraid of competition, it’s definitely there at all times.
Sooners Illustrated prediction: OU. Somehow, someway, Lon Kruger has pulled this off for the Sooners. The five-star stays home.