Recently in this space, I observed a market correction on Oklahoma freshman Trae Young, the presumptive player of the year in college basketball. That day included a brief disagreement in The Big Lead headquarters (Slack) about whether Young was more like Steph Curry or Jimmer Fredette.
That was Jan. 23, and things have only gotten worse for Young since then.
Not only has Oklahoma lost five out of the six games it’s played since then, Young is 7-for-41 from the 3-point line this month, has missed 16 3s in a row and is shooting 35 percent from the field. He’s still scoring plenty of points, but he’s been held under 20 points four times this year, three of them since Jan. 27, and he’s good for five or six turnovers on a good night, 10 on a bad one.
The sheer total of points and assists he has piled up probably will still win him the player of the year award over a field without many other stars, but it’s fair now to question whether or not he should. Oklahoma is better than it was last year, when it went 11-20, but the Sooners will soon be flirting with the NIT if they don’t get it turned around, and that would make things pretty interesting in the POY race.
There are a number of factors at play here. The main one is that Young is now facing Big 12 competition, and asking a freshman point guard to score 30 points per game in conference play just to keep your team’s head above water is asking a lot, and freshmen often hit a wall this time of year anyway.
But it’s probably also true that a lot of what we were seeing from Young earlier in the season was illusory, something like a gimmick, never meant for the long term.