Kansas had an opportunity to land one of college basketball’s best players in Trae Young a year ago.
The Jayhawks already had one of the best, however, in Devonte’ Graham.
Young was a highly-touted prospect out of Norman North High School. But no one saw his astronomic season coming when he committed to Oklahoma over Kansas.
Graham and Young could’ve been a nightmarish backcourt for any opposing team. But Young’s decision to be “the guy” at Oklahoma paid off for both the Sooners and Jayhawks, according to Tulsa World columnist Guerin Emig.
“Don’t lose sight of the prime directive here: The Sooners added Young because he could help them out of their hole. He did that. They won, unlike the year before his arrival,” Emig wrote in his column. “But you know who else won as a result of Young’s year-old decision? Kansas.
“The Jayhawks are in their first Final Four since 2012. They’re playing Villanova on Saturday night because Devonte’ Graham is as influential for this team as Frank Mason was for last year’s Jayhawks.”
It’s hard to estimate the impact Young would’ve made on Kansas this season.
Emig points out Young wouldn’t have been granted as much freedom in Lawrence, Kan., to shoot the ball as he did in Norman, Okla. And maybe it would’ve kept Young in school a year longer.
Both parties — Oklahoma and Kansas — benefitted in the end. The Sooners were back in the NCAA Tournament and Young put them in the national spotlight. Kansas, on the other hand, is in the Final Four for the first time since 2012 and continued its dominance over the Big 12.
Young’s college career came to a close with a loss to Rhode Island in the Round of 64 and has his eyes set on the NBA. Kansas still has more to play for this season with a game at 8:49 p.m. ET, Saturday, against Villanova in San Antonio.