None even close like tonight.
“This one I don’t have the words for,” said Young, who despite standing 5-foot-11 was a star guard at Tech averaging 15.4 points per game as a sophomore, 16.1 as a junior and 17.8 as senior. “It’s going to crazy and a little emotional for me. Just because it’s going to be emotional for me because I believe we are the first father-son duo to play in the same Big 12 conference. It’s going to be emotional for me because I had a lot of good memories in that arena.”
That arena tonight is called the United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock and at 6 p.m. No. 7-ranked Texas Tech will host No. 23 Oklahoma in a nationally televised game.
The majority of Young’s emotions will arrive from seeing his son, freshman guard and national sensation Trae Young, playing for the first time against Texas Tech.
Rayford learned how different things are now with his son at OU when Tech is the opponent. On Jan. 9, in Norman, Okla., OU beat Tech 75-65.
Rayford, in medical sales concerning strokes and heart patients, lives in Norman with his family. He has watched several OU-Tech games before the one in January and sat around friends visiting from Tech.
“That was very strange for me because we have been going to the Tech games here since Trae was a little kid,” Rayford said. “I would sit on the Texas Tech side and it was no big deal. Those fans have been coming to that game for years. This year I had to sit across from them. And the I usually go on the Tech radio at halftime and let everybody in Lubbock and West Texas area know how I’m doing and how the family was doing. I didn’t do it this time. I was too tuned-in to the game hoping my son would win.”
Rayford’s son, Trae, is winning.
Trae, simply his middle named as he wasn’t named for the 3-pointer, entered OU out Norman North High School with quite a bit of fanfare as a McDonald’s All-American.
But nobody predicted a month into his college career he would be already be considered a candidate for player of the year and today’s leads the NCAA in scoring at 29.5 points per game and in assists at 9.4.
Trae’s magical style of deft passing skills, insanely long range shooting skills, some of it inspired by his two favorite players Steve Nash and Stephen Curry has sold out opposing arenas and brought out the national publicity. The latest pub a full spread in this week’s Sports Illustrated and owning a No. 5-10 pick ranking in several 2018 NBA mock drafts.
Even Rayford is surprised by Trae’s meteoric rise.
“I had a feeling it would happen sooner or later, but not this fast,” Rayford said.
Rayford was a fan favorite himself when he played at Pampa High and Tech. Before starring at Tech he was a slender 5-foot-11, owner of a killer cross-over move and a sweet shooting touch.
Rayford lead Pampa to the 1996 Class 4A boys state championship. Leading is an understatement.
During the state tournament he tallied 67 points in the semifinals and finals sinking 23-of-37 field goal attempts guiding the Harvies to the crown.
Earlier in the playoffs he became a Pampa legend against Sweetwater single-handedly bringing Pampa back from a seven-point deficit with just more than a minute to play by scoring all of Pampa’s points in the comeback.
“I still hear about that Sweetwater game,” said Rayford, who regularly hears from people back in Pampa through letters praising Trae and loved the large group of Pampa fans recently showing up at OU game wearing “Pampa Loves Trae” T-shirts. Any conversation of who was better in college, Rayford or Trae, is put to rest by Rayford.
“It’s not even close,” Rayford said. “Trae is so much better than I ever was.”
Rayford’s advice to Trae over and over was become more than outside shooter.
“We’ve had a lot of those talks over the years,” Rayford said. “It was more about you can’t be strictly a 3-point shooter if you are going to be 6-foot-2. I grew up with a lot of guys like that. If you are going to be an all-around player and a big-time point guard you have to be able to do it all.” The hours Rayford and a young Trae spent together playing one-on-one basketball, or drills where Rayford would make Trae shoot over the broom he was holding, have ended. “I’m too old now,” Rayford said with a laugh. “My bones couldn’t handle it. We will play horse every now and then and he will win most of them. He does all the trick shots.”
When Rayford watches Trae play these days, he admit he’s a nervous wreck. But like tonight in Lubbock he always a proud papa.
“What I’m most proud of Trae is he able to achieve his dreams so far,” Rayford said. “He still has so much farther to go. These are dreams he had his whole life. He is working hard to do them. It just goes to show if you work hard dreams can come to fruition. People don’t realize how many we hours he has spent in a gym. That’s what I’m most proud about.”
Oklahoma at Texas Tech
The game: No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners (1-8, 6-6) at No. 23 Texas Tech Red Raiders (21-4. 9-3), 6 p.m. tonight United Supermarkets Arena in a Big 12 men’s basketball game.
Noteworthy: Former Pampa High and Texas Tech star Rayford Young will be in attendance watching his son, OU freshman sensation Trae, play his first game at Tech.
Pampa native Rayford Young has visited Lubbock for Texas Tech men’s basketball games many times since his Red Raider playing days from 1996-2000.