Kruger on 2017 class, impact of Trae Young signing

Joe DuVall, Staff Writer
Sooner Scoop

On Wednesday, Norman (Okla.) North five-star point guard Trae Young officially became the highest ranked signee of the Lon Kruger era and joined his 2017 classmates Brady Manek and Hannes Pöllä, who signed in the November early period.

“Three guys that are not only good players, good people, but really wanted to be here. That’s always important… It’ll be a group that fits in well and contributes right away.”

Young, a McDonald's All-American who actually faxed his signed letter in from his hotel room for the Jordan Brand Classic in New York City, is the prized jewel of the trio.

“It means a lot. It’s a huge signing given that he’s a local guy," Kruger explained, "It says a lot about Trae and his family that they wanted to be here, they wanted to have an impact on their community, their university, and the state of Oklahoma.”

Often referred to as the nation's top shooter, Young averaged over 43 points per game as a senior in high school. Kruger believes that their style of play and Young's skill-set will make for a fairly painless transition to the college level.

“We won’t change our interest in attacking and the pace of play and pushing the ball. And Trae adds to that, because he really pushes the ball out of the backcourt and he obviously scored a lot of points in his high school career. He’s about winning, he’s about making teammates better, putting them in position, great feel for the game, shoots it well certainly, but great imagination as a passer - very creative - terrific skills with the ball."

Signing a Normanite to run the point has other perks, as well. Growing up just minutes from Oklahoma's campus meant Young has already built a relationship with his future teammates.

“He knows our guys really well. That speaks well to our guys, because he’s been around them the last couple of years and wanted to join them in getting this program back where it belongs.”

As mentioned, Young's signing on Wednesday made him the third member of OU's class of 2017. He joined fellow Oklahoman and Rivals150 member Brady Manek, who will likely play a stretch forward role for the Sooners.

“Brady has very good skills. 6-8/6-9, shoots the ball very well, very good rebounder, good passer. Again, good feel for the game, wants to be here, all those things add to a guy that’s going to be very effective here.”

The third member of the class not only comes from outside the state of Oklahoma, he comes from outside the western hemisphere. Hannes Pöllä recently played his basketball for the Helsinki Academ in Finland and his future head coach has high expectations for his role in the paint.

“Hannes is a guy that’s played in an older league (in Finland). 6-11, 265, big tough guy – he’s really a low-post player. Unlike maybe Khadeem (Lattin) and Jamuni (McNeace) who (play with) more activity, running the floor. Hannes is a physical, contact guy in the low post that likes to bang around a bit in there.”

Overall, Kruger believes the Sooners have signed a group that can come in and immediately rejuvenate the program.

“It’ll be a good impact. This class coming in, the guys coming back, I think our crowds will continue to grow and it will be a really good impact.”

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