Sooners comeback bid foiled as defense falters

 

By Michael Kinney

As bad as the Oklahoma defense performed throughout the day Saturday, in order to have a chance to beat rival Texas and keep their season undefeated, they needed just one last stop in the fourth quarter to give their potent offense a chance to win the game.

Unfortunately for the Sooners, that stop never came as the Longhorns kicked a game-winning field goal with nine seconds left to beat the Sooners 48-45 at the Cotton Bowl.

“We have to get better in a lot of areas,” Lincoln Riley said. “But we’ve got some fight in that room. We have some guys who are incredibly disappointed right now. They will be ready when we get back on the field here at TCU Congratulations to Texas. They played a very good football game. It was one of the epic ones there. It will be one people will be talking about for years and years and years. It was really a special atmosphere like it always is. It lived up to the billing like it always does.”

The Sooners entered the fourth quarter trailing the Longhorns 45-24. The game looked like it was done.

But then OU seemed to flip a switch in the final 10 minutes of the game.

First quarterback Kyler Murray hit Lee Morris for a 19-yard touchdown with 8:28 left on the clock. The defense came up with a stop to give the ball back to the offense with 5:11 left.

On the first play of the drive, Murray sprinted 67 yards down the left sideline and into the endzone to close the gap to 45-38.

For a third consecutive series, the defense came up with a huge stop and forced Longhorns to punt. The Sooners took over on their own 43yard line. It took only three plays for Trey Sermon to score and tie the game at 45-45.

“It was a tale of two games for us,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “First part we were inconsistent offensively. Didn’t get any stops defensively. We were kind of just average on special teams. Then at the end of the game I was very proud of our team’s fight there at the end. To get it back there to tie the game, have a great chance to win the football game.”

Texas ended the day with 501 total yards. Sam Ehlinger threw for 324 yards.

UT came into the game averaging only 396 yards per outing. Their 48 points were 20 more than their season average as well.

The Longhorns had their best offensive performance of the season against an Oklahoma defense that was supposed to be a strength this season.

“Our players got a little bit disjointed. We all did,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “[Texas was] reading what we were doing. We were trying to audible back out of it and I think our players got in between two calls at times. I thought [Texas] played more physical than we did today, and some of it is just who we have there in certain positions. That’s an area we obviously need to get better in – just our physicality across the board.”

Murray suffered his first loss as a starting quarterback in college with his defeat at Texas Despite throwing for 304 yards and two TDs on `19-of-26 passing and leading the Sooners in rushing with 116, he put the loss on his shoulders with his two turnovers.

“Obviously, I’m not used to losing,” Murray said. “It hurts. Disappointed. It’s just tough because I feel I turned the ball over today and you give them the advantage when you turn the ball over. I feel like if I didn’t turn the ball over we had a better shot at winning the game. Obviously, we didn’t play as well as we wanted to. We knew coming into this game it was going to be a four-quarter game. We’re better than that. I know we’re better than that. It’s just tough.”

Marquise Brown snagged nine catches for 132 Yards and two touchdowns on the day. Lamb added six receptions for 75 yards.

Curtis Bolton led the Sooners with 13 tackles. Kenneth Murray, who leads the Big 12 in tackles, ended with 10. Kahil Haughton added nine tackles.

For Texas, Lil Jordan Humprey tallied nine catches for 133 yards while Collin Johnson tacked on 6 receptions for 81 yards.

Keaontay Ingram led the Longhorns ground game with 13 carries for 87 yards.

Oklahoma took the first lead of the game when Kyler Murray and Brown hooked up for a 4-yard TD pass on the game’s opening drive.

However, UT outscored the Sooners 24-10 the rest of the first half.

The Longhorns kept finding ways to putting the Oklahoma defense in positions it didn’t want to be in. On their second touchdown of the first half, quarterback Sam Ehlinger hit tailback Tre Watson on a wheel route out of the backfield on a 28- yard touchdown catch. He was being defended by defensive end/linebacker Mark Jackson, who was trailing him the entire way.

On the ensuing drive, the Longhorns went on an eight play, 75-yard scoring drive as they rammed the ball down the Sooner’s throat with the run game. They were physically moving the defensive line off the line of scrimmage and back into the linebacker’s laps.

“At the end of the day if we may not get the call, it’s still our jobs as players to get down and run the defense at the end of the day,” Neville Gallimore said. “Whether we get the call or not, get lined up, that’s the biggest thing for us. We just need to do a better job at that. It’s the little things.”

The Longhorns came out of halftime like they started the game. They pulled out an 11-play drive that covered 75 yards. Ehlinger’s 5-yard touchdown run put Texas up 31-17.

But the Sooner’s struck back with a 77-yard scoring strike from Murry to Brown. It’s the longest reception by a Sooner in the series.

After Oklahoma forced a three and out on the next series, they got the back with a chance to tie the game. However, Murray fumbled while trying to evade pressure up the middle and the Longhorns recovered.

“Coach Riley, he is preaching to me all the time about ball security in the pocket. And then it ended up in a big game,” Kyler Murray said. “I don’t know how many times he’s told me that. That one defiantly hurts.”

The Longhorns took advantage of the turnover and scored twice more I the third to take a

45-24 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

“We all as a group are supposed to be on the same page,” cornerback Tre Brown said. “We got on different pages and you could see the frustration out of us. But we’re a team, we’re brothers and we picked that up very late. Should have been doing that the whole time. Second half it came together, but we should have been doing that the whole game. We knew what was coming, but we didn’t execute like we should and everything was just coming to us late. We knew it was right there, but we didn’t make the play. It’s on all of us.”

Story ran in the Yukon Review

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

King of New York

By Michael Kinney

NEW YORK – Tae Ham hadn’t been out to enjoy the nightlife of New York City in some time. He became a homebody after the birth of his second child.

But on the evening of Aug. 12, Ham found himself relaxing at Mr. Purple, the posh rooftop bar at the Hotel Indigo near the SoHo District.

He was surrounded by young, upwardly mobile New Yorkers enjoying their lives and successes in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. As Ham stared out into the New York City skyline, he recalled growing up in Oklahoma when the setting would have seen more of a fantasy than real-life possibility.

Ham, 44, the founder and CEO of the investment firm Open Hedge, said he has come a long way from the days when he could barely speak English as a young immigrant. He arrived in Lawton with his family when he was 10.

“I wasn’t the smartest kid. I wasn’t the most talented,” Ham said. “But I believe that if you have passion and you’re willing to focus and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to do it, I think that will lead you to greater things in life.”

Ham founded Open Hedge almost two years ago. The motto of the investment company, which is located on 57th Street in the heart of New York City’s financial district, is to bring Wall Street to Main Street.

Before going out on his own, Ham worked for 14 years as a senior executive with Viking Global Investors and HBK Capital Management, a pair of multibillion-dollar hedge funds. While Ham was successful at both companies, he wanted a change. The realization came about three or four years ago.

“I had my first son and I used to go to work at 6:30 a.m. and come home at 9 o’clock,” he said. “So, I never got to see my son for three years. That’s when I started to realize what I’m missing. There’s not a real balance in my life.”

It wasn’t an easy decision. The pay was great, but wealth wasn’t the most important consideration. On the other hand, the challenge of becoming an entrepreneur appealed to him.

Coming to America

Ham was already familiar with challenge, beginning when he and his family first left South Korea.

“My dad, he came to the United States knowing that if his kids stayed in Korea, we would never have the same opportunity that we could have in America,” Ham said. “He believed in the American dream. He didn’t know what that was, but he knew that in America opportunities abound, and he knew that his kids would have better chances.

“So, he came to America first and he brought us after,” he said.

When Ham reached Oklahoma, he had no idea what to expect. He didn’t know anything about his new home.

“None of us spoke English,” Ham said. “We had to learn English when we came here and when we moved to Lawton. I wasn’t particularly thrilled because I thought it was a little cowboy town.”

Ham’s family was poor. His father’s salary as a pastor at a small Korean church barely covered the basics for a family of six. He recalled feeling embarrassed because he was a part of the free lunch program at school. But he learned from that experience, he said.

“It taught me to say, ‘my parents came here with nothing and they’re trying their best to provide,’” he said. “I can’t just sit back. I think my parents instilled this in me too. Believing, whispering in our ear saying, ‘you can be more than what we have done here.’”

Ham was an all-district performer on the Eagles varsity soccer team at Lawton Eisenhower High School. His coach, John Stiefer, said the tenacity Ham displayed on the soccer field helped him get ahead in business. Initially, Stiefer said he was skeptical that Ham had the size and skill to play goalkeeper.

“But, he was tenacious with a ‘the keeper position is mine’ mindset,” Stiefer said. “Each training session was a competition for him and his skill improved exponentially. Tae was very intelligent and this enabled him to gain more skill on the technical and tactical aspects of goalkeeping. He was a very hard worker.”

But one trait stood out to separate him as an outstanding ‘keeper from every other player, his former coach said.

“It’s courage,” Stiefer said. “Tae was a very courageous keeper. All of the practice and training repetitions cannot elucidate courage. Time after time I saw him sacrifice his well-being to make outstanding saves.”

Ham graduated from Eisenhower in 1992 and earned a bachelor of arts degree across the state at the University of Tulsa.

First financial lessons

Ham’s first job was in Dallas working at Microsoft. He then joined the company Data Returns. He was 23-years old and seemingly had everything he wanted in front of him.

But that is when life decided to deliver its first blow as the dot.com bust hit. Data Returns busted and Ham was left out in the cold, but with some life lessons.

“When the dot.com bust occurred I lacked the finance knowledge to protect myself. Sonny (Perdue), at one point his net worth was over a billion dollars, and he didn’t protect himself,” Ham said. “I think a lot of the people that worked at Data Return were in the same boat. So that’s one of the reasons my vision was I want to go to business school to understand finance and accounting.”

Ham made the decision to deviate from his initial plan and head to business school in New York, where he attended Columbia. It wasn’t an easy decision, but one he knew he had to make.

“I think any time you leave a place that you’re comfortable in, it’s hard,” Ham said. “It challenges you. It pushes you and it’s hard for people to be uncomfortable, but I think being uncomfortable is a great thing. You can’t be comfortable. If you’re comfortable you sometimes forget that you could achieve more.”

That is the mindset Ham continues to carry with him today at Open Hedge. He hopes that young women and men coming out of Oklahoma now realize they can do whatever they want and not to use where they came from as an excuse not to dream big.

“If you look at the kids that work at my previous firms, most of them were Harvard grads, undergrads, Ivy League grads; and most of them had opportunities that people from Lawton or even Oklahoma just didn’t have,” Ham said. “But I think people understand your passion. They understand your work ethic. They understand that it doesn’t matter where you come from, it matters what you do.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Producer

Story ran in The Journal Record

Sooners built for competition

(Photo by Jay Beauchamp)

By Michael Kinney

Days after Oklahoma defeated UCLA, sophomore wideout CeeDee Lamb was still being asked about his spectacular non-catch in last weekend’s. Even though the one-handed grab was ruled out of bounds, that has stopped Lamb’s phone from blowing up.

Lamb said he even surprised himself when he went back to see the replay of it.

“I actually jumped higher than I thought,” Lamb said. “I was pretty up there. I surprised myself, to be honest. I just jumped to see if I was able to get to it. The next thing you know I caught it.”

Lamb said he doesn’t know what his vertical jump is right now. But he believes it increases during games when the adrenalin is pumping and more people are watching him.

Teammate Marquise Brown is one of those who was watching Lamb as well.

“That was crazy,” Brown said. “I was watching it and was like ‘oh, he just caught that.’ They should have just counted it for the effort.”

Because the wide receiver room at Oklahoma is so competitive, Lamb knows Brown will be trying to outdo him this week at Iowa State.

“There is no telling what Jet has in his bag,” Lamb said. “I will just wait till he pulls out something spectacular. He will probably pull out a helmet catch or something. I will just be prepared. We always compete, so I hope he gets it.”

The competition that Lamb and Brown have between each other is just a small sample of what seems to be the driving force behind this year’s Oklahoma squad. Whether it’s individually or group vs group, the Sooner’s foundation is built on competition.

“We compete through offense, defense, special teams,” Brown said. “We compete, compete, compete.”

While the offensive and defensive lines get after it as do linebackers and runningbacks, it’s the receivers and defensive backs who seem to take the most joy in going after each other.

“It’s just great going against those guys every day,” safety Justin Broiles said. “Every day we’re competing. In and out. It’s vice versa. Monday we might get them. The next day they might come back out and get us. You just get fighting, keep pounding at each other.”

With a player like Broiles on the field, it’s hard for things to not turn competitive. The 5-foot-10, 180 Oklahoma City native is not afraid to get up on the faces of his offensive players on his team and opposing squads.

““I’ve always been one to try to get in your head,” Broiles said. “If I can get in your head, it’s over with then. It’s just something that comes from being JB. That’s just being me. (I know I have them) when they start getting frustrated when they start trying to get extra after the whistle. That’s when I know it’s over with now. I’ve got you.”

According to Brown, their daily face-offs in practice has them prepared for anything they will encounter on Saturdays.

“It’s competitive. Every practice is so competitive. Not only are we competing with the DBs, but we’re competing with each other. I make a play, CeeDee wants to make a play, AD wants to make a play. The youngins want to make a play. So, it’s like we’re all competing, going hard. The DBs are just pushing us, pushing us. So, it’s like when we get out here (games) we want to get rewarded for it for the work we put in.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider.

Oklahoma barber uses social media to build brand

(Photo by Michael Kinney)

By Michael Kinney

NORMAN — Alvin “AP” Payne, the owner of Payneless Images barbershop, runs an old-school type of business. With more than 30 years of experience, he knows the ins and outs of his storied profession.

But inside his establishment, Alvin Payne has an employee who challenged some of those ideas. With his camera on a tripod, a background light and desk stand with a couple of cellphones mounted on top, his corner of the six-chair shop is decidedly futuristic.

That employee is Alvin’s nephew, DeAngelo Payne, better known as “Dpayne The Barber” to his clients and those who follow him on social media.

In the 11 years since he began working at his uncle’s shop, DeAngelo Payne has helped change the direction of Payneless Images in Norman and his own career path.

“I just grew wanting to show people what I was able to do, what I was able to deliver, and that was really important for me,” Payne said. “And so, probably about three years ago, I just really took it so serious. I really started understanding that I had to invest in myself in order to be in a better position in life later on.”

Payne grew up in Tulsa with dreams of playing football for a career. But after a couple of seasons at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, he was spending more time cutting hair than anything else.

“I was in school, but I wasn’t really going to class and stuff like that,” he said. “Certain things weren’t really working out, but I grew to love cutting hair.”

Alvin Payne, who gave DeAngelo his first pair of clippers when his nephew was 9, watched from afar as he struggled in college. Then he made his nephew an offer he couldn’t pass up.

“I asked him if he wanted to come work with me at the shop,” Alvin Payne said. “I apprenticed him after I apprenticed my brother. He was already cutting at school, though. He wasn’t that good, but he was good enough for college.”

That was more than a decade ago. Now Payne is part of the new generation of entrepreneurs who have entered the barber craft looking to change the business side of the profession.

That meant utilizing social media in building the business and his brand.

“I saw other barbers and other entrepreneurs, not just barbers, but other people that were using social media to really pump their business through that,” Payne said. “And I was like, ‘Hey, this can be really effective for my business.’”

Skye Latimer, owner of SkyeRockit Media, a social media management and consulting firm, said having a strong presence on social media is imperative to building a brand, regardless of whether selling a physical product or a service.

“If you aren’t popping up on a hashtag or have no representation in the social sphere, your potential clients might not think your business really exists or will question its credibility,” she said. “Social media can provide exponential growth. It’s a fact that it seriously increases brand recognition, customer loyalty and repeat clients.”

According to Latimer, a well-designed social media account with great tweets or captions will boost a brand to the top of the difficult-to-navigate platform algorithms.

Payne got inspiration by speaking with his mother and grandmother and watching motivational speakers on YouTube. They touted the benefits of a long-term investment in self-marketing.

It also meant learning skills that would enhance his brand presence. Payne bought his own camera equipment. He started filming his sessions and posting them on a variety of social media sites.

While Instagram (he has 5,114 followers) is his favorite, Payne sees the overall potential in YouTube (530 subscribers).

However, not everyone got what Payne was doing at the start. His uncle was skeptical, at first brushing it off as something for the younger generation.

“But I’ve seen how powerful social media really is,” Alvin Payne said. “He’s really embraced what’s going on today, the new technology, the whole new way of advertising and marketing himself.

“I’m old-school; I was the guy putting out flyers and word of mouth was a big deal,” Alvin Payne continued. “But this social media thing is crazy, and he’s lit it like fire.”

DeAngelo Payne said that by going fully digital, he can open up his online schedule and find himself typically booked for 20 hours or more. He said it’s gratifying that so many people are interested. That success means just as much to the man who introduced DeAngelo to the craft and has watched him take off with it.

“I feel like I’ve left some legacy behind,” Alvin Payne said. “I feel like I’ve helped my family to be able to take care of themselves and given them a trade and a career where you can go anywhere in this world and do.

“The way he is reaching out, the way people see him across the country, he’s like a social media star,” Alvin Payne continued. I feel really good about the hands I will be leaving it in when I do step away from the game.”

This story and photos first ran in The Journal Record

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Sooners make it official: Murray to start

By Michael Kinney

For most, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion. When Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield left Oklahoma and become the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, it was assumed backup quarterback Kyler Murray would be handed the keys to the offense.

However, that was not the way Murray approached the quarterback battle with redshirt sophomore, Austin Kendall. The Allen, Texas native came it like he does everything– with hard work.

So when OU coach Lincoln Riley told Murray Wednesday that he had earned the starting job and Kendall would be his backup when the season opens Sept. 1 against Florida Atlantic, Murray took it all in stride.

“Obviously, it’s a huge honor for me,” Murray said after practice Wednesday. “Something I have dreamed of, working hard forever since I got here. It’s a moment ever since I started playing I’ve been working for this. For me to be named the starting quarterback is obviously a huge honor. I know the standard of the position at this university, so it’s my job to uphold it.”

According to Murray, Riley called him and Kendall into his “big” office to deliver the news. While he wasn’t sure he would be named the starter, he had a feeling what the meeting was going to be about.

“We play next weekend, so it had to be soon,” Murray said. “He texted me and told me to come meet, I had a feeling that this is what it was about.”

According to Riley he just laid it out plainly that Murray was going to be the starting quarterback.

“These are elite athletes, they are competitors,” Riley said. “They don’t want you to beat around the bush. They want you to just tell them straight. That’s what I did. I told them both what the situation was and what the expectations were going forward, what we based the decision on.”

According to Riley, competition between the two stayed close throughout camp. But he wouldn’t give specifics on what Murray did better to win out.

“It was pretty simple honestly,” Riley said. “I don’t know that there is some elaborate breakdown that we have. As we looked at the whole body of work we just thought he was slightly ahead of Austin. So it was a very close one, stayed that way. One of the closest I’ve been involved with. They both did a tremendous job. At the end of the day, only one can do it. We’ll need them both to be successful this year. But Kyler is going to be the guy right now.”

What made this quarterback battle so intriguing were the things that had nothing to do with football. Murray was selected No. 9 overall in the MLB draft by the Oakland Athletics. He later signed a guaranteed contract worth estimated $4.7 million.

Despite that, 5-foot-10, 190-pound Murray insisted he would be coming back to Oklahoma for at least one more season to play football.

“I came in here every day ready to work,” Murray said. “Trying to get better. I think I’ve been playing the best football of my life these past couple of months. As of late, going from my freshman year at Texas A&M to being with coach Riley has obviously helped me a lot. Sitting behind Baker has helped me a lot. Now it’s time to go, put that to the show. ”

Murray is in his third season at Oklahoma after transferring from Texas A&M. He played sparingly last season behind Mayfield as he completed 18 of his 21 throws for 359 yards and three touchdowns. He added 142 yards on 14 carries.

The prevailing thought has been that Murray’s ability to use his legs and break open plays on the ground was an advantage that Kendall didn’t have. However, Riley said people are underestimating his ability to throw.

“Guy wouldn’t be able to play here, nor would we recruit him here if we didn’t think they would be a good enough thrower,” Riley said. “It starts with that. It starts with the ability to lead, it starts with the ability to throw the football. Everything else is all well and good, but our guys are going to have to be able to do that. He’s going to get his chance. People can say this or that, but he’ll get this chance to show what he can do.”

Murray said he got a text from Mayfield earlier in the day congratulating him.

According to Riley, Kendall took the news as expected.

“He handled it in a very mature way,” Riley said. “He certainly was disappointed, wants to play. For a guy like him, he can’t sit here and say what I did here over the last several months didn’t work. What he did over the last several months did work. He’s much, much-improved player. It’s going to help him a lot going forward.”

However, just because Kendall didn’t win the starting job now, doesn’t mean he won’t get his chances to get on the field this season. And, as Riley explained, no job is bench proof. Every day is a competition.

“That’s where the competition comes back, because they know we have two good players in there,” Riley said. “They know the expectations of within this offense, the expectations we have of the quarterback’s performance and out our offense’s performance. They realize that this is for the next 10 days and the first snap against FAU. Then after that, it’s about who’s playing the best. We keep the competition always going here. No matter the position, no matter the time of the year. That’s just what we believe in this program. Quarterback is no different.”

Center still undecided:

While the quarterback starting spot has been settled, Riley said no decision has been made between Jonathan Alverez and Creed Humphrey in the battle for the starting center.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider with EyeAmTruth.com

NBA Draft: Trae Young already showing his brand is strong

By Michael Kinney

The 2018 NBA draft will take place Thursday at the Barclays Center in New York City. At some point in the first round, Oklahoma native Trae Young will be selected.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound point guard is projected to be a top-10 lottery pick.

When Young is chosen, it will be just over a year since he graduated from Norman North High School as one of the premier players in the country. He will have gone from an everyday teenager living with his parents to being on the verge of becoming a millionaire with his first NBA contract.

Twenty years ago that would have been all any professional athlete would have wanted. Throw in a shoe deal and a few commercials and they were set.

But now, in this new generation of young men and women gaining instant wealth and fame before they can even legally take a drink, the team contract is just the starting point.

For athletes like Young, the aspirations aren’t just to conquer their sport. It’s also to build their own brand and create a business empire.

“I dreamed of it. You ask me a year ago if I wanted to do this in a year. I would tell you that I’m gonna work my butt off to get to this point,” Young said. “But you never know. All I can do is focus and control what I can control. That was just playing and trying to do whatever it takes to help my team win. Ultimately that got me to this point. I envisioned it, I dreamed of it, but now that it’s reality … my dreams all come true on Thursday. It’s definitely something that is a blessing.”

While the verdict is still out on who will be the best player in the 2018 draft, there seems to be very little debate on who has the potential to be its biggest star. Earlier this month ESPN Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell said Young would be the most marketable player in this year’s draft.

Young seems to agree with the assessment.

“It means everything, courtside, on the court, off the court. Being able to attract fans, attract people,” Young said. “As far as on the court, make my teammates better, my overall skill set, you know, shoot the ball, spread the floor, but also be able to get in the lane, get my teammates involved, stuff like that.”

But Young knew that was a possibility early on in his basketball career. When he started getting recruited as an eighth-grader, he had his eyes set on creating a brand that others would want to be involved with.

“Well that was something that I knew I needed to do,” Young said. “ Back in the day there wasn’t social media, you weren’t as marketed like players are now. Even some of the best players weren’t. But, I think that’s something that I’ve learned … I think that I’m very mature at, is knowing that there’s always someone watching. Just making sure I’m doing the right thing at all times, is something I’m focused on.”

Part of that brand building meant staying away from trouble. He knew if he was going to be the face of multimillion-dollar corporations, he couldn’t give them a reason to have a second thought about his character.

“It involved just making sure that I have a clean brand, everything about me is clean,” Young said. “I’m not perfect by any means, but just trying to make it as clean as possible. Trying to do things the right way. Give back to my community. Do different things like that. Just making sure that my off the court is just as good as on the court.”

So far the plan has worked. Young has already inked deals with NBA 2K19 to be one of the featured players on the game. He also signed endorsement deals with Express, the fashion retailer. It will be their suit he is wearing when he crosses the stage on draft night.

Young is also part of Footlocker’s One and Done campaign. Other new partners include Panini Memorabilia, the watch company Tissot and New Deal Custom Hats. According to his father, Ray Young, he was the only player in the 2018 class to have a deal in place with Panini.

Since the day Young said he was turning pro most fans and sports business analyst were waiting to see which shoe company he would join. That wait came to an end Tuesday when it was announced that Young would join the Adidas family. He and Miami’s Lonnie Walker were the only players to sign a footwear and apparel endorsement deal with the 69-year-old German company.

“After seasons of holding down highlight reels, Trae and Lonnie are both heralded for their elite skill set and creativity on-court,” Adidas said in a statement. “Their path to the NBA started with loyalty to family and community and further solidified by their character, passion and dedication to the game. Trae and Lonnie will play an instrumental role in driving performance insights, in addition to creating deeper connections within basketball communities across the globe. They will also be featured in upcoming brand campaigns and activations.”

While the numbers sound great, Young is well aware of the challenges that lie ahead for him in building a global brand. He is now basically a CEO and that means being involved in every aspect of his business dealings.

“Well, that’s something I’ve looked into. I’m very involved on the business side of my brand,” Young said. “Wanting to figure out who I’m going to sign with. Just little things like that. I’m very involved and every part of Team Young. Especially the business side.”

Young relies heavily on his parents, Ray and Candice Young. One of them is normally with the 19-year old wherever he goes while the other is back in Norman with his younger brother, Timothy, and two younger sisters, Caitlyn and Camryn.

“They are going to be a big a big factor to that,” Young said of his parents. “The way they feel about things is a big determining factor on certain things. They are going to be very involved in it. I talk to them all about what they think on certain deals and certain marketing opportunities, different things like that. They’re involved heavily.”

Others who have had an influence on Young have been the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Durant, who he has known since his high school days. Both have turned their names into global brands and helped paved the way for what Young wants to accomplish.

However, there is another player who Young is trying to pattern his business path after.

“I really like Chris Paul (L.A. Clippers). How he controls everything. He’s branded,” Young said. “The way he carries himself, he’s a big role model for me. He’s a big person that I look up to like that.”

Young isn’t looking to be a flash in the pan on the court or off. He building his brand for the long term and that means making smart decisions on who he associates with himself.

“Every decision I make now is going to affect me in the future,” Young said. “ Focus on what I can do now to make sure my brand is right, make sure my decisions going forward are looking good. Everything that I do now effects ultimately affects your future. I’m looking at everything,  not just on a short-term basis, but long term.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider with EyeAmTruth

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