In the end, Trae Young just could not leave home.
Young, one of the Kansas basketball program’s top remaining targets in the 2017 recruiting class, announced shortly after noon on Thursday that he would attend the University of Oklahoma, picking the hometown Sooners over Kansas and Oklahoma State.
A 6-foot-2, 170-pound, five-star prospect from Norman, Oklahoma, Young revealed his choice at a ceremony attended by friends and family at Norman North High.
"This has been a long process for me and (had) a lot of ups and downs," Young said during Thursday's announcement. "In the end, I came to a place of peace and everything came together for me. And that place of peace, for me in the Fall of 2017, will be the University of Oklahoma."
With that, Young slapped on a red OU hat and basked in the roar of his friends and family members that filled the room.
Thursday’s announcement ended one of KU’s longest recent recruitments, as Bill Self and company had been targeting Rivals.com’s No. 14-ranked player in the 2017 class for years. Young attended KU camps as a freshman in high school and kept in close touch with Self and his assistants throughout his prep career.
Self personally spent a lot of time traveling south to Norman to watch Young play and the Jayhawks rolled out the red carpet for Young on his official visit back in October.
Although the gestures and attention landed Kansas in Young’s final two and made the decision to pick OU very difficult, it was not enough to pry him away from the opportunity to become the face of the Oklahoma program. In Jason Jordan’s recent USA Today article on Young’s recruitment, he quoted Young as saying that Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger “said he’d turn over the keys to the program to me.”
That status not only figures to make Young a big deal at OU, but it also could make him one of the area’s biggest stars and gives his family an easy opportunity to watch him play on a regular basis.
With Young’s future now clear, the Jayhawks are likely to turn their full attention to fellow five-star point guard Trevon Duval, a 6-3, 189-pound IMG Academy point guard who is ranked No. 3 overall and the No. 1 point guard in the 2017 class, according to Rivals. Assistant coach Norm Roberts was in Florida on Thursday to watch Duval, who visited KU for Late Night back in the fall and also has been at the top of the Jayhawks’ wish list in the Class of 2017.
Duval’s Late Night trip was of the unofficial variety, which meant he still had an opportunity to take an official visit any time before he signed. He took that opportunity a couple of weeks ago and attended KU’s home game against Baylor on Feb. 1.
After the visit, Shay Wildeboor of JayhawkSlant.com caught up with Duval’s father, who had nothing but good things to say about his son’s experience.
“It was just a great visit,” Trevor Duval told Wildeboor. “The great thing about Kansas was they made us feel like family. We felt like we belonged during the entire visit.... It really couldn’t have gone any better.”
Although Duval and Young are slightly different players from a physical standpoint, the talent level is equal. Both are elite point guards with big time play-making ability who would make an immediate impact wherever they land.
With Kansas slated to lose Frank Mason III to graduation and potentially losing junior Devonte’ Graham to the NBA, the importance of finding a point guard to slide into the lead guard spot for the 2017-18 season is high.
However, sources close to the program indicated throughout the process that the Jayhawks absolutely loved both Young and Duval and would’ve been thrilled to land either.
That fact keeps KU in good shape so long as it can continue its pursuit of Duval, who lists Arizona, Baylor, Duke and Seton Hall next to Kansas on his list of finalists.
Matt Scott, of TheShiver.com, told The Journal-World Duval’s recent trip to Lawrence made Duval to Kansas a real possibility.
“The official visit to Kansas very much put KU in the mix for Duval,” Scott said. “Heading into that visit, the popular belief was that Trae Young would ultimately be a Jayhawk. After the visit, though, I think Duval certainly felt that Kansas would love to add him to their 2017 class as much as any player they’ve recruited.”
Duval was slated to make an official visit to Duke for the Duke-North Carolina game last week and also has pegged Feb. 25 as his visit date for Arizona.
The next NCAA signing period runs from April 12 through May 17 so Duval still has plenty of time to weigh his choices and make up his mind.
KU’s 2017 class, which ranks 10th overall according to Rivals.com, is currently made up of four-star combo guard Marcus Garrett (6-5, 180, of Dallas, No. 37 overall) and five-star forward Billy Preston (6-9, 220, of Oak Hill Academy, No. 8 overall).
Both Garrett and Preston signed national letters of intent during the early signing period last November.