Buddy Hield has had an incredible senior season for the Oklahoma Sooners and has taken them to their first Final 4 since 1988.
He was 2nd in the nation in scoring this season with 25.4 points per game and may end up winning the national awards for the best player in college basketball (he has some stiff competition in Denzel Valentine of Michigan State).
Hield’s reputation and draft stock have sky rocketed since Novemeber. He reportedly considered entering the NBA draft after his junior season but heard that he would most likely be a 2nd round pick so he made the very fruitful decision to come back for his senior season. Hield has used the NCAA tournament as his springboard to national relevance and attention and is averaging 29 points and six rebounds per game in four NCAA tournament games including an all-time great performance in the Elite Eight against the Oregon Ducks with 37 points on 8-for-13 shooting from deep in a game he dominated from the start.
Hield is becoming a collegiate legend in this tournament on Steph Curry levels, (Curry took the nation by storm with his 2008 NCAA Tournament appearance getting Davidson to the Elite Eight and making himself a lottery pick) and in the past two weeks has gone from a lottery pick to a potential top three pick.
He is one of four players to average 25 points per game for a team that has made a Final 4 run.
Buddy Hield became the first 25 PPG scorer to reach the Final Four since 1990 pic.twitter.com/YyCjoObL7X
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 27, 2016
Rice was the only player in that group who led their team all the way to the national title and Hield has a real opportunity to be the 2nd.
In an NBA draft that projects to have a stark drop off after the top two prospects in Ben Simmons of LSU and Brandon Ingram of Duke, Hield has elevated himself into that next group of prospects that includes him, Kris Dunn of Providence, Jaylen Brown of Cal, Jamal Murray of Kentucky and 7’0″ Croatian stretch four Dragan Bender.
Part of the reason Hield has been so successful is the fact that he is a physically and mentally mature 22-year-old who is surrounded by a lot of talent and continuity at Oklahoma (they have had the same starting lineup every game for three seasons, unheard of in major college basketball) which allow Hield to maximize his strengths. As an already developed prospect with decent but not elite athleticism or quickness, he doesn’t project to be a superstar on the NBA level but does have a game similar to a C.J. McCollum of the Blazers. If he can find himself the right opportunity and situation in the NBA, he can become a dependable starter to borderline all-star caliber player in a given year.
If you’re a struggling franchise in dire need of some instant help, leadership and maturity to help change your culture, although Hield may not have the ceiling of some other top prospects he may be a solid piece to help in your rebuild.