The 30 Most Influential NCAA MBB Teams of SLAM’s 30 Years: 2018 Oklahoma  

To celebrate SLAM’s 30th anniversary, we’re spotlighting the 30 most influential men’s college teams from our past 30 years. Stats, records and chips aren’t the main factor here, it’s all about their contribution to the game’s cultural fabric.

For the next 30 days—Monday through Friday— we’ll be unveiling the full list here. We’ve also got an exclusive retro collegiate collection, out now, that pays homage to each squad’s threads. Shop here.

There’s a reason why we called him the “greatest show in hoops” back then. Long before the lore of Ice Trae sent shivers down the backs of everyone in Madison Square Garden during the playoffs, Trae Young was silencing the doubters in the Lloyd Noble Center, too. 

The 2017-18 Oklahoma Sooners didn’t just have a star freshman, they had a rebel. He simply couldn’t be held to the limits of the three-point line, or held back by the opinions of others about his size or potential. As we wrote in our SLAM 214 cover story of him, “not only has he completely rearranged mock draft orders and the itineraries of NBA scouts, he’s also rearranged the media coverage of college basketball—this publication included.” 

Young’s destiny in Norman, the same city where he grew up and went to high school, was written long before he rocked crimson and cream. He was the ball boy for the men’s team back in ‘06, and the Young family lived less than 15 minutes from the campus.

“With me having the opportunity to play for a [future] Hall of Fame coach and play in my backyard and represent my city and state—it was something that I wanted to do and to take a different route was something that I took as a challenge,” Young told us in 2018. 

He was set to join a team that had an 11-20 record the year prior in 2016-17, and his arrival meant helping carry the team that was full of talent and had some experience, junior Christian James was the team’s second-leading scorer with 11.9 points, the Sooners would catch the attention of the world. As Trae hit mid range floaters and shots from the logo, his teammates held their own alongside him. Between November and January, the Sooners even posted a ten-game winning streak. 

Despite a season full of ups and downs, the 2017-18 Sooners ended their season with defeats by Oklahoma State and Rhode Island, but ultimately, the show they put on that year was bigger than the final box score. And as for Young, well, it was only the beginning…

Photos via Getty Images.

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