When the college basketball season began, not many fans knew about Oklahoma freshman guard Trae Young. He was nowhere to be found in early mock drafts done by the national websites.
Now, the 6'2 Norman, Oklahoma native is the talk of the college basketball world after matching the Division I record with 22 assists in the Sooners' win over Northwestern St. on Tuesday. He also scored 26 points in that game, becoming the first player in nearly two decades to record at least 20 points and 20 assists in the same game. Young currently leads the nation in scoring and assists, averaging 28.5 ppg and 10.2 apg.
But it's more than just the raw numbers that make Young such an intriguing prospect. His ball-handling skills, quick release and unlimited shooting range remind scouts of a young Steph Curry. And, while it's always dangerous to compare an undersized freshman to a two-time league MVP, remember how undervalued Curry was coming out of Davidson because of concerns about his strength and durability.
If you want to see Young for yourself, he'll be playing against Chris Collins' Northwestern team Friday night at 6 p.m. in a nationally televised game. Watch how easily Young is able to get his shot off, using elite dribbling skills and step-back moves to create separation from defenders. He's got range well beyond the NBA 3-point line which often catches college guards flat-footed, and he's quick enough to blow by defenders for easy baskets in the paint.
Young's passing ability was on full display in that blowout win over Northwestern St. on Tuesday. He's got the full arsenal of no-look passes, with his ball-handling skills allowing him to get into the teeth of an opponent's defense and still find an open teammate.
How does he potentially fit with the Bulls? Well, if they continue on their current hot streak, the Bulls could find themselves picking in the 5-10 range, instead of at the top of the draft. Young was recently listed as the No. 9 pick in a mock draft done by Basketball Insiders, and he should continue to climb up the ladder if he maintains his current numbers against a tough Big 12 schedule.
If the Bulls drafted Young, they could potentially pair him with Kris Dunn in a smaller backcourt, with Dunn taking on the defensive responsibility against taller shooting guards. Zach LaVine would have to slide to small forward in that line-up, but in today's position-less NBA with more teams utilizing guard-heavy line-ups, a Dunn-Young-LaVine trio could work.
Nothing has changed at the top of the draft, where Marvin Bagley, Deandre Ayton and Luka Doncic are still the top prizes, but keep an eye on Trae Young throughout the college season. The similarity in his style of play to Curry is pretty remarkable.