Trae Young mania reached its meta moment Wednesday morning. A few minutes after SportsCenter aired a 213-second piece comparing Young to two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, an anchor asked a pair of ESPN analysts: “How can Trae Young deal with all this hype that we’re placing on him.” It’s a statement dripping in oversaturated irony. Young, Oklahoma’s brilliant freshman point guard, leads the country in both points (29.1) and assists per game (9.3). He’s an explosive combination of fire-from-anywhere shooter and daring passer. A breakout star by any measure, even if he entered Oklahoma as a five-star prospect. Yet somewhere along the way, Young’s become this embodiment of the current star-driven sports landscape. At 19 years old, Young’s every highlight is featured on ESPN. Young's already had multiple TV features filmed about his freshman season – ranging from time with his family to NBA stars commenting on his play – and his exploits have been used as an indictment of an entire generation of basketball players. Just think on this headline from Tuesday: “Is Trae Young just the first of many Steph Curry clones?” It’s hard enough being an 19-year-old college freshman. It’s more difficult playing Division I basketball. It’s more difficult still in your hometown, with the pressures of family and friends enveloping you each day. Now consider that Young is a figure of such mania that ESPN created an in-game graphic specifically for Young, reminiscent of the Shaq/Kobe combined points tracker we saw back when the Lakers were running the NBA. But ESPN is also using the graphic in games Young isn't even participating in. All this taken together, and Young’s been bestowed a larger-than-life persona.
Trae Young is unfairly becoming a victim of the hype machine
247 Sports | Feb 15