Buddy Hield likely does not care what you think about him. Nor does he care what defense you play, your game plan to shut him down or with whom you choose to guard him.
A native of Freeport, Bahamas, the Oklahoma junior is as soft-spoken a person as he is a tenacious offensive force. As a sophomore last season, he averaged 16.5 points per game and shot 39 percent from deep. He entered Saturday night’s game vs. rival Oklahoma State averaging 21.3 PPG in Big 12 games (tops in the league) and 17.1 PPG in all competitions. And he’s doing this in the nation’s most competitive conference.
Hield is not some surprise breakout star who has all of sudden come alive and buried teams recently. He’s been doing this consistently, and opponents still have yet to figure out how to stop him.
In Saturday night’s 82-65 Bedlam blowout, Hield was two missed free throws away from a perfect night. He finished the evening with 27 points (10-for-10 FG, 4-for-4 from behind the arc) and five rebounds, and was unstoppable in every facet of play. It was the Buddy Hield pick-your-poison night at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman.
If defenders gave him too much room, he pulled up from distance and made them pay. If they cheated and overcommitted, he went back door and made them pay.
(video via ESPN)
Even late in the game, with his team up big, his hustle and headiness were on display, as he followed up a Frank Booker missed layup with an emphatic putback dunk.
(vine via Kyle Boone)
The best part of Hield’s game was that he forced nothing. After an 18-point first-half performance, he had only attempted one field goal through the first 15 minutes of the second half. Then, with five minutes left and Oklahoma State gaining some momentum, he turned a broken play into a cool-as-you-like three-pointer which took the last remaining life out of the Cowboys.
This is the third consecutive Bedlam win for Oklahoma and the fifth in the last six seasons. The victory snaps a small two-game skid for the Sooners, in which they fell at home to Kansas State and were blown out at West Virginia. Hield, though, was just as impressive in those games, despite the losses. Head coach Lon Kruger stressed defensive effort all week in practice and his side delivered. The Sooners held Oklahoma State to just 37 percent shooting and 27 percent from three-point range (7 for 26).
If Hield, who is averaging 26.3 PPG over his last three games, looks like he’s playing like an All-American, it’s because he is. He was named a Wooden Award Top 25 finalist this past week, one of three Big 12 members, along with Iowa State’s Georges Niang and West Virginia’s Juwan Staten. The last Sooner to be named to the Wooden Award watch list was Blake Griffin, who took home the honor at the end of the 2008-09 season.
At 6-foot-4, 212 pounds, Hield has the size, athleticism and shooting ability to be a productive NBA player. His game translates well, he’s an extremely humble worker and he does the little things well. His time will come, but for now he's focused on the moment.
“Not many guys have the energy I put on the floor,” Hield said before the start of the season. “I play with a chip on my shoulder and I play like there's something I want and I'm not going to stop playing until I get it."
On Saturday night, he got what he wanted and he only stopped when the buzzer sounded. It was also the only time the Cowboys could stop Hield all night.