Jordan Shepherd weighs in on being Trae Young’s backup

When it comes to Oklahoma basketball, Trae Young is often the first and only thought that comes to mind these days.

The Sooners freshman sensation has taken the college basketball world by storm, leading the nation in scoring (29.9) and assists (9.3), and doing so in a very Steph Curry-esque fashion. Young’s hype has reached such a height that during ESPN broadcasts, there’s a Trae Young stat tracker above the scoreboard throughout the entire game.

But what about Young’s backup, sophomore Jordan Shepherd?

Despite technically being the veteran of the bunch, Shepherd has virtually been completely overshadowed by Young, but as he told Cody Stavenhagen of the Tulsa World, that can be a good thing.

“He’s the best player in the country,” Shepherd told Stavenhagen of Young. “Even though he’s younger than me, I can learn things from him. … Going against Trae is not like going against anyone else.”

Going against Young and going against opposing guards are two entirely different things, though.

With Young running the show, Shepherd is seeing the floor for a mere average of 12.7 minutes per game this season en route to 2.9 points and 1.6 assists each time out. Behind the scenes, though, Shepherd is handling his reduced role with grace, as Young told Stavenhagen.

“Me and him are really close, and I don’t know how well I would have handled it if I was in his position,” Young said. “But I think he’s handled it really maturely, and I’m proud to have a teammate like him.”

The good news for the former 3-star prospect, however, is that the stage is seemingly set for Shepherd to take the reins in 2018-19. The frontrunner for the Naismith Player of the Year award, Young is widely expected to spend just one season at Oklahoma before becoming a lottery pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

So what is Shepherd doing to prepare himself in the event that the expectation becomes reality and he replaces Young after only one season in Norman?

“Just lock in, and if it happens, it happens,” Shepherd said.

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