NORMAN, Okla. — “Goodbye OU, and hello NBA.”
With those words — and about 1,000 more — Oklahoma point guard Trae Young declared his intention to enter this summer’s NBA Draft after just one season with the Sooners.
Young made his declaration in a first-person essay on ESPN.com, making his decision official just five days after OU’s season ended with a first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Rhode Island.
After a solid start to the season, averaging 18.5 points and 11.5 assists during the first two games, Young burst onto the scene nationally during the Sooners’ trip to the PK80 in Portland in late November.
There, he averaged 34.7 points in three games, including 43 points in a win over Oregon.
It was during that trip to Oregon that Young first began to look like a player capable of making the leap to the NBA after just one season.
“When I chose OU, I imagined I’d have more than one chance at the NCAA tournament,” Young wrote. “But things changed and this season became my only opportunity.”
A few weeks later, Young tied an NCAA record with 22 assists — adding 26 points as well — in a win over Northwestern State.
Young struggled — at least compared to his sizzling-hot start — for much of the second half of the season as defenses adjusted to Young and the Sooners, throwing multiple defenders his way and forcing the rest of the Sooners to beat them.
Still, Young is set to become the first player to lead the nation in both scoring and assists in the same season since the assist became recognized as an official statistic in 1983-84.
He becomes Oklahoma’s first one-and-done player since Tommy Mason-Griffin, another point guard, declared for the draft after the 2009-10 season.
But while Mason-Griffin went undrafted, Young is expected to be a lottery pick.
The latest ESPN.com mock draft, updated following Young’s official announcement, Young is slotted into the No. 8 spot to the Chicago Bulls. Only one other point guard — Slovenian Luka Doncic — is listed ahead of Young. Alabama’s Collin Sexton, another freshman, is listed one spot behind Young and is the only other point guard listed in the lottery.
There have been no shortage of point guards to go the one-and-done route, from top picks Derrick Rose, John Wall, and Kyrie Irving to the solid early picks like Mike Conley and Jrue Holiday.
Since the one-and-done era began in 2006, 13 point guards — including versatile LSU star Ben Simmons — have been selected in a lottery spot.
Of the six of those who are at least three years removed from being drafted, all have had solid careers. Irving and Wall are five-time all-stars while even the lesser of that group — Jerryd Bayless and Brandon Knight — have been solid NBA contributors.