In three years, sharp-shooting Trae Young has gone from lighting up the gym at Norman North High School to being one of the National Basketball Association’s best players.
The 6-foot-1 point guard, a starter in February’s NBA All-Star Game, has averaged around 30 points and 9 assists per game in his second season with the Atlanta Hawks. That’s up from 19.1 points and 8.1 assists per game last year, when he landed on the NBA’s All-Rookie team and played in the Rising Stars game during All-Star weekend.
In 2017-18, Young played his only season at the University of Oklahoma, where he averaged 27.4 points, 8.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Those numbers resulted in his being named the top freshman in the Big 12 Conference and the nation.
The Dallas Mavericks picked Young fifth overall in the 2018 NBA draft, then quickly traded him to Atlanta.
Young, 21, says he “was super excited” about being named an NBA All-Star starter.
“I had a lot of emotions,” he says. “I was nervous, anxious. I was really … blessed to be in this position.”
Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce says it’s a privilege to coach a talent like Young and isn’t surprised at his accomplishments at this age.
“It’s like the first step, the first go-round,” Pierce says. “Now he’s there and he’s going to feel like, ‘I want to be here every year.’”
The coach expects Young to increase his responsibilities with the team.
“I told him, ‘You need to be different – accountability, leadership, ownership of what [it means to be] an All-Star,’” says Pierce, adding that Young must see the Hawks “as his team and [understand] what he means and what kind of value he brings to our team. This is the first step towards that.”
Atlanta plays in the Eastern Conference, so the Hawks visit Dallas and Oklahoma City just once a season. Each city is where Young went to watch NBA games as a kid.
“It’s super cool,” he says. “I remember coming to games [in Dallas]. I was in Oklahoma City growing up, but Dallas is [a few] hours from Norman and just coming down here for certain games, just loving coming to the games and having two teams close to where I grew up, was nice.”
Any time he returns to Norman, he says he feels at ease because “you just know where everything’s at, how to get places – that’s the easiest thing and the most comfort about being home. If there’s traffic on a street, I know how to take the back ways. I know where my favorite restaurants are. I think that’s the best part I miss about Norman – just knowing where to go and how to move.”