The Trae Young experience has been exhilarating, confounding

Oklahoma point guard Trae Young passes the ball during the Sooners' game against Kansas State, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, at Lloyd Noble Center. On Tuesday, Young announced he would enter the NBA draft rather than return to OU.

Kyle Phillips / The Transcript

NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma point guard Trae Young was named as one of the 10 semifinalists for the James A. Naismith Trophy recognizing college basketball's most outstanding player.

Young is currently on pace to become the first player to lead Division I in scoring (28.0) and assists (9.0) and in an 87-64 loss to Baylor Tuesday, he broke the Big 12 record for most points in a regular season. Against Big 12 competition, Young's averaging 28.1 points and 8.2 assists.

His 18 points against the Bears gave him 811 for the season, as he became just the second player from a major conference since Duke's J.J. Redick in 2005-06 — and first freshman from any conference — to top 800 points in a regular season in the last 20 years.

To go along with his scoring, Young has totaled 261 assists, 27 shy of Duke guard Bobby Hurley's all-time freshman record. Oklahoma State's Doug Gottlieb owns the overall Big 12 record, dishing out 299 in 1998-99. Young is the second Division I player to reach 800 points and 250 assists in the last 20 years, joining Oakland's Key Felder, who did it in 2015-16.

Young also now owns the OU freshman scoring record, passing Wayman Tisdale's 810 total in 1982-83. Tisdale's freshman year was so memorable the U.S. Basketball Writers Association named its freshman of the year award after him in 2010.

Despite those accomplishments, there is growing speculation Young may not win Big 12 Player of the Year, let alone the Naismith.

The Sooners (17-12, 7-10 Big 12) have lost 11 of 13 games and have slipped from No. 4 to out of the poll. They are tied for seventh place in the Big 12 standings. Meanwhile, Young's main competition, Kansas guard Devonte Graham, also a Naismith semifinalist, helped the Jayhawks clinch a 14th straight regular season conference title. 

Graham has tallied 281 fewer points and 45 fewer assists than Young. However, Kansas coach Bill self made the case for Graham being the conference's best player after a win over Texas Tech in Lubbock last week, and he's not the only one who thinks that way.

“To me, the Big 12 Player of the Year is from the people that win the league,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said after a loss to OU Saturday. “Winning is what dictates who should be the Big 12 player of the year, but that's just my opinion.”

John McKelvey


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