Is Oklahoma point guard Trae Young the best freshman basketball player in the nation?
Could he be the best overall player in college basketball?
Young has been selected to the Midseason Top 25 for the John R. Wooden Award – given to the best player in the country. Chosen by a poll of national college basketball experts, the list has 25 players who are front-runners, based on their performances during the first half of the 2017-18 season.
The award goes to the nation’s best basketball player at an Division I university who has proven that he is making progress towards graduation and maintaining a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous winners include Larry Bird (1979), Michael Jordan (1984) and Tim Duncan (1997).
No. 4 Oklahoma is the only school with multiple John R. Wooden Award winners over the past 14 seasons with Buddy Hield (2016) and Blake Griffin (2009). Hield plays for the Sacramento Kings and Griffin, a former No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft and rookie of the year, plays for the Los Angeles Clippers. Only one school (Duke) has ever had three student-athletes receive the award within a 10-year stretch.
A 6-2 guard from Norman, Young is one of six freshmen and four Big 12 players to make the top-25 list. Young leads the nation in both scoring (30.1 points per game) and assists (9,9). No player in recorded NCAA history has finished a season leading the country in both scoring and assists. He also averages 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 steals while shooting .449 from the field and .389 from 3-point range.
Young has 25 points and 10 assists in seven of his 15 games this season – the most in a college career in the past 20 years. The only other college player to reach seven such games in the past two decades is J.J. Barea of Northeastern (2002-06) with seven in 113 career games.
Young dished out 22 assists against Northwestern State on Dec. 19, tying the NCAA record for most assists in a game (assists became official in 1983-84) while breaking both OU and Big 12 records (both were 18 assists). Young is the fourth player in recorded college basketball history to register 22 assists and the first since Sherman Douglas of Syracuse in 1989..
Through nine weeks, Young has earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors five times – the second most in a season in conference history, behind only Blake Griffin (also of Oklahoma) with six honors in 2008-09. Young has been named the Big 12 Player of the Week on Nov. 13, Nov. 27, Dec. 18, Dec. 27 and Jan. 1. He has also earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on Nov. 20 and Dec. 4.