NORMAN – For the second time in three years, an Oklahoma men’s basketball player is a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award. The Los Angeles Athletic Club announced Wednesday that OU freshman guard Trae Young is one of five finalists for the honor, which is presented to the most outstanding college basketball player in the United States.
Young is joined on the list of finalists by DeAndre Ayton (Arizona), Marvin Bagley III (Duke), Jalen Brunson (Villanova) and Devonte' Graham (Kansas). The announcement of the award’s winner will be the anchor presentation of the ESPN College Basketball Awards in Los Angeles on Friday, April 6.
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is one of the most prestigious individual honors in college basketball. It is bestowed upon the nation’s best basketball player at an NCAA Division I university who has proven to his university that he is making progress towards graduation and maintaining a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous winners include Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan and Kevin Durant.
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) each earning the honor. 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 recently concluded one of the most historic seasons in recent college basketball memory. He is the first player in NCAA Division I history to finish the season leading the country in both scoring (27.4) and assists (8.7).
Young's 27.4 points per game mark the highest scoring average ever recorded by an Oklahoma or Big 12 player. His 8.7 dimes per game are good for the best assist average in OU history and are second in Big 12 history only to Doug Gottlieb of Oklahoma State (8.8 assists per game in 1998-99).
Young is the first major-conference player in NCAA Division I history to total 800 points and 250 assists in the same season, finishing the year with 876 points and 279 assists. The freshman scored 826 of his points in the regular season, becoming just the second player from a major conference to reach 800 points during the regular season in the Big 12 era.
The Norman native put up his scoring numbers while passing out a nation-leading 279 assists. Young's 279 dimes are the most ever by a Big 12 freshman and one assist short of the Oklahoma program record (280 by Ricky Grace in 1988).
Young leaves Oklahoma owning the single-season freshman records for points (876), assists (279), 3-pointers (118) and made foul shots (236). He also exits as the OU record holder for any class in scoring average (27.4), assist average (8.7) and made foul shots (236). His 876 points are the fourth-most in a single season by a Sooner, trailing only Tisdale (932 and 919) and Hield (925).
The guard didn't just break school and conference records, he also tied one of the most impressive single-game records in college hoops history. By dishing out 22 assists against Northwestern State on Dec. 19, he tied the NCAA record for most assists in a game (assists became official in 1983-84) while breaking both Oklahoma and Big 12 records (both were 18 assists).
Young's play has been recognized with numerous honors and awards. The USBWA named Young the winner of the 2018 Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award, named after OU legend Wayman Tisdale. By receiving the honor, Young joins a prestigious list of past winners that includes Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd and Chris Webber.
Young is also a finalist for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year and is a Consensus First-Team All-American after receiving first-team honors from the Associated Press, Sporting News, the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA)
The Big 12 Conference's head coaches selected Young as the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and unanimously selected him to the All-Big 12 First Team and Big 12 All-Newcomer Team.
On March 20, Young announced that he will forgo his final three seasons of collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. The NBA Draft will be held June 21 at Barclay Centers in Brooklyn, N.Y. Should Young be selected, he will be the third Oklahoma guard to be drafted in the past three seasons, joining Hield and Isaiah Cousins (both in 2016).