In case you haven’t heard, Northwestern’s opponent on Friday features a freshman who might just be the best player in the country (according to KenPom). Coming off a 26-point, 22-assist performance in 29 minutes on Tuesday night, Trae Young enters Friday’s contest leading the nation in scoring and assists. We’ll be sure to provide a full breakdown of Young’s game, but it’s important to look at who benefits from Young’s gravity and from his passes. Here’s a look at three of Oklahoma’s other talented players:
Manek is Oklahoma’s other heralded freshman, a four-star recruit who went to high school about 45 minutes away from campus. Manek stands 6-foot-9, but plays as a stretch four— he’s shot more three-pointers than two-pointers this season and has somehow only made it to the free throw line four times in almost 250 minutes on the court. The Harrah, Okla. native has reaped the benefits of Trae Young’s gravity, knocking down 71 percent of his 35 two-point shots and 38 percent of his 55 three-pointers. His ability to move without the ball and run the floor is impressive as well.
Brady Manek scored a career-high 21 points vs. Wichita State. He & Trae Young just the second pair of OU frosh to score over 20+ in a game since 1976. pic.twitter.com/L9hlAhwPSL— SoonerScoop.com (@SoonerScoop) December 17, 2017
Manek has been scoring much more efficiently lately, with 43 points on 27 shots in his last two outings. He’s not a back-to-the-basket big or a rebounding machine, but Manek has proven time and time again he can make open shots, and Northwestern will have to account for that on Friday night.
Young’s primary backcourt mate is Christian James, a guard putting up career-best numbers in his third season in a Sooners uniform. The Houston native has been Oklahoma’s most consistent scorer aside from Young, scoring in double figures in every game but one this season. He’s also been more efficient than ever, boosting his eFG% to 58.9 percent, up from 43.5 percent last season. James is a capable three-point shooter at nearly 36 percent, and his 1.4 steals per game are second-best on the Sooners.
The man in the middle for the Sooners is senior Khadeem Lattin. The last time Lattin faced a Big 10 squad, he got tangled up with Wisconsin forward Ethan Happ and flopped, leading Big Ten Network to have some fun.
Nonetheless, Lattin is a starter for the third season in a row and has enjoyed a productive career thus far at Oklahoma. He stands only 6-foot-9, but Lattin has been one of the best shot blockers in the Big 12 over the past three seasons. This season, he’s averaging nearly two blocks per game. Lattin isn’t going to shoot the ball much outside the paint, but he’s efficient around the rim and scores about nine points per game in Oklahoma’s fast-paced offense. Lattin hasn’t scored much against Power 5 competition, but Northwestern will need to keep him off the boards, as he’s pulling down almost eight rebounds per contest