Buddy Hield: A Fresh Throwback In Today’s One-And-Done World

    Buddy Hield is a fresh throwback in today's one-and-done college basketball game. The Sooners star is all that is right with the sport.

    February 6, 2016

    Buddy Hield is the type of player today’s college basketball so desperately misses. 


    Buddy Hield was born at the wrong time.

    Had he been born in 1962 instead of 1992, college basketball fans might look at him in a different light. Once upon a time, Hield would have been seen as the epitome of what a college basketball player should be, someone who slowly but surely built his game from being a key cog off the bench as a freshman to a superstar as a senior, bumping his numbers a little bit every step of the way.

    Hield would have been praised for taking the time to polish his game through hard work and determination, for taking the lessons and suggestions given to him by coaches and scouts and making himself into a special player by his sheer will. He would have been seen as the poster boy for college basketball, especially as the go-to guy for the top-ranked team in the land.

    Instead, it’s almost like something is wrong with him.

    After all, if he is so good, what is he doing still playing at Oklahoma?

    Hield is an anomaly, almost an anachronism in the modern day. He is a fantastic college basketball player, someone with no obvious flaws to his game who has ignored the siren song of the NBA. Oh, he thought about it. Thought about it long and hard. He was told he might be an end-of-the-first-round pick. He might land in the second round.

    Leaving would be a risk, one plenty of other players have taken.

    “I know I can play,” Hield could have said like so many others before him. “I’ll silence the haters. I’ll prove the doubters wrong. I know I can do it. I’ll just bet on myself.”

    Here’s the thing. Self-confidence doesn’t cut you checks. NBA teams do. And if the NBA is telling you to work on things for another year, be smart and follow their advice.

    Hield is smart. He has to be to recognize his weaknesses and turn them into a strength.

    After years of work in the gym, hours upon hours upon hours spent toiling far away from the cheering fans and the spotlights, long after Dickie V has put on his nightcap and crawled between the sheets with his teddy bear to slumber on a long winter’s night, Hield has developed from just a shooter to a complete player.

    He’s averaging 25.8 points as OU heads into its game vs. Kansas State Saturday night, and his shooting percentage from 3-point range has skyrocketed to 23.8 percent as a freshman to 51.7 percent this year. He’s rebounding more than ever. He’s handing out assists more than ever. He’s still playing tight defense.

    He’s also winning the respect of opposing fans. Hield dropped 46 points on Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse a few weeks back, and the Jayhawk faithful gave the kid a standing ovation.

    That’s respect.

    Despite all he’s done in his career, Hield isn’t getting the biggest headlines. LSU’s Ben Simmons is everyone’s favorite NBA prospect, the can’t-miss kid who is likely a one-and-done rental for a Tigers’ team that might not make the tourney. Hield, meanwhile, is on the other end of the spectrum, leading Oklahoma to heights not seen in years.

    NBA scouts think the 6-4 guard is undersized for his position at the next level. They don’t think he distributes the ball enough. It’s why he’s still in Norman instead of playing for pay.

    Hield could have realized he’s not going to get any taller. He could have coasted this year, put up similar numbers and realized that if scouts thought he had flaws before, they were just going to pick him apart after watching him play another year.

    He didn’t think that way. He simply got back to work, and the Sooners are reaping the benefits. He has become a throwback—a college senior who is playing his best ball as a senior thanks to his work ethic.

    Some will look at Hield and his gaudy numbers and not be impressed. They’ll still say that something is wrong with him.

    The truth is, he’s all that is right about college basketball.

    MORE: Saturday’s Must-See College Basketball Games

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