Trae Young had a sense that his pro basketball career could begin with the Atlanta Hawks.
The former Oklahoma star’s intuition proved correct on Thursday night when he was selected by the Dallas Mavericks with the fifth overall pick in the NBA draft and then was traded moments later to Atlanta.
“I got a feeling in the past few days that that would happen, that it was a possibility that it would happen but you never know until your name’s really called up there if it would happen or not,” Young said during a conference call. “Coming to a rebuilding team, to me it feels a lot like going to Oklahoma, a team who’s looking to rebuild, who’s really talented, a really talented team but who I feel is one or two pieces away from being special.
“Hopefully I’m that one player.”
Atlanta swapped the third overall pick, Luka Doncic, to Dallas for Young and a protected 2019 first-round draft pick. The Hawks finished 24-58 last season.
Young, a Norman North High School star, makes his next basketball home exactly one year after the point guard began classes at OU. In his lone season with the Sooners, Young led the nation in scoring (27.4 ppg) and assists (8.7).
Young said he relishes his time at OU.
“It meant a lot to me being able to learn from a coach (Lon Kruger) who coached in the NBA and who was a really good player at my position,” Young said. “Just being able to learn a lot from being in the film room, different things like that. It’s been great for me. I’ll never forget my time at Oklahoma because it made me a better person as well as a better player.”
Young and the Hawks are scheduled to play the Oklahoma City Thunder in an exhibition Oct. 7 at the BOK Center.
Young was introduced alongside other draft prospects with his parents, Ray and Candice Young, before the start of the draft. He was wearing a burgundy and black-colored suit that featured shorts, ala LeBron James’ recent look at the NBA Finals.
Young is the just the third OU basketball player to be selected in the first round over the past 28 years, joining Blake Griffin (2009, No. 1 overall, L.A. Clippers) and Buddy Hield (2016, No. 6, New Orleans Pelicans).
“We are thrilled for Trae as he fulfilled his dream of being drafted into the NBA,” Kruger, a former Atlanta Hawks head coach, said in a statement. “The Oklahoma program has a long history of Sooners reaching the NBA and it’s an honor to see Trae added to that list. He had a fantastic season as a freshman and did things we had never seen before in college basketball, such as leading the country in both points and assists.
”Trae’s skills as a scorer and a distributer should be an exciting addition to the Hawks and we’re excited to see him compete at the next level while representing the University of Oklahoma and the city of Norman.”
Young’s selection also concludes a trifecta for OU, which had top 10 draft picks in both the NFL (Baker Mayfield, No. 1 overall, Cleveland Browns) and Major League Baseball (Kyler Murray, No. 9 overall, Oakland Athletics).
By becoming a top-10 pick, Young joins the likes of Griffin (Edmond), Wayman Tisdale (Tulsa), Stacey King (Lawton), Ekpe Udoh (Edmond) and Alvan Adams (Oklahoma City) as Oklahoma-raised players taken in the top 10.
“Throughout this process, I’ve always known hard work and everything. This process and this predraft process, I was able to look in the mirror and see how much of a hard worker that I am,” Young said. “I worked extremely hard last summer to prepare for the college season and to do what I did, I can honestly say that I worked twice as hard to prepare for the next level.”
1. Phoenix, Deandre Ayton, c, Arizona.
2. Sacramento, Marvin Bagley III, f, Duke.
3. a-Atlanta, Luka Doncic, g, Real Madrid (Spain).
4. Memphis, Jaren Jackson Jr., f, Michigan State.
5. a-Dallas, Trae Young, g, Oklahoma.
6. Orlando, Mohamed Bamba, c, Texas.
7. Chicago, Wendell Carter Jr., c, Duke.
8. Cleveland (from Brooklyn via Boston), Collin Sexton, g, Alabama.
9. New York, Kevin Knox, f, Kentucky.
10. Philadelphia (from LA Lakers via Phoenix), Mikal Bridges, f, Villanova.
11. Charlotte, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, pg, Kentucky
12. LA Clippers (from Detroit), Mile Bridges, f, Michigan State
13. LA Clippers, Jerome Robinson, pg, Boston College
14. Denver, Michael Porter Jr., f, Missouri
15. Washington, Troy Brown, f, oregon
16. Phoenix (from Miami), Zhaire Smith, f, Texas Tech
17. Milwaukee, Donte DiVincenzo, g, Villanova
18. San Antonio, Lonnie Walker IV, g, Miami
19. Atlanta (from Minnesota), Kevin Huerter, g, Maryland
20. Minnesota (from Oklahoma City via Utah), Josh Okogie, g, Georgia Tech
21. Utah, Grayson Allen, g, Duke
22. Chicago (from New Orleans), Chandler Hutchison, g, Boise State
23. Indiana, Aaron Holiday, g, UCLA
24. Portland, Anfernee Simons, g, United States
25. LA Lakers (from Cleveland), Moritz Wagner, f, Michigan
26. Philadelphia, Landry Shamet, g, Wichita State
27. Boston, Robert Williams, c, Texas A&M
28. Golden State, Jacob Evans, g, Cincinnati
29. Brooklyn (from Toronto), Dzanan Musa, f, Bosnia-Herzegovina
30. Atlanta (from Houston via LA Clippers), Omari Spellman, f, Villanova
31. Phoenix, Elie Okobo, g, France
32. Memphis, Jevon Carter, g, West Virginia
33. Dallas, Jalen Brunson, g, Villanova
34. Atlanta, Devonte’ Graham, g, Kansas
35. Orlando, Melvin Frazier, f, Tulane
36. New York (from Chicago via Oklahoma City), Mitchell Robinson, c
37. Sacramento, Gary Trent Jr., g, Duke
38. Philadelphia (from Brooklyn), Khyri Thomas, g, Creighton
39. Philadelphia (from New York), Isaac Bonga, f, Germany
40. Brooklyn (from LA Lakers via Toronto via Orlando), Rodions Kurucs, f, Spain
41. Orlando (from Charlotte via Phoenix via Memphis), Jarred Vanderbilt, f, Kentucky
42. Detroit, Bruce Brown, g, Miami
43. Denver (from LA Clippers via New York via Philadelphia), Justin Jackson, f, Maryland
44. Washington, Issuf Sanon, g, Serbia
45. Brooklyn (from Milwaukee), Hamidou Diallo, g, Kentucky
46. Houston (from Miami via Memphis), De’Anthony Melton, g, Southern Cal
47. LA Lakers (from Denver via Chicago via Utah), Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, g, Kansas
48. Minnesota, Keita Bates-Diop, f, Ohio State
49. San Antonio, Chimezie Metu, f, Southern Cal
50. Indiana, Alize Johnson, f, Missouri State
51. New Orleans, Tony Carr, g, Penn State
52. Utah, Vincent Edwards, f, Purdue
53. Oklahoma City, Devon Hall, g, Virginia
54. Dallas (from Portland via Denver), Shake Milton, g, SMU
55. Charlotte (from Cleveland via Brooklyn via Philadelphia), Arnoldas Kulboka, f, Lithuania
56. Philadelphia, Ray Spalding, f, Louisville
57. Oklahoma City (from Boston), Kevin Hervey, f, UT-Arlington
58. Denver (from Golden State), Thomas Welsh, c, UCLA
59. Phoenix (from Toronto), George King, f, Colorado
60. Philadelphia (from Houston), Kostas Antetokounmpo, f, Dayton