“THE BEST BUDDY”
THE RISE OF BUDDY HIELD
When Jeff Capel was fired by Oklahoma in 2011, the athletic department started looking for a new basketball coach. The search ended by hiring a man who previously took 4 different schools to the NCAA tournament. On April 1, 2011, Lon Kruger accepted the head coaching job at Oklahoma. A highly respected person, Kruger brought instant credibility back to Norman. Kruger’s first year on the job resulted in a 15-16 record. It was time to hit the recruiting trail and find The Best Buddy.
One of his recruiting trips took him to a small high school in Wichita,Kansas. Sunrise Christian Academy was home to an 18 year old student who was born in the Bahamas. What happened next changed the Oklahoma basketball program forever. On September 23, 2013, Kruger landed what would become his most important recruit he has signed since he has been at Oklahoma. His name? Buddy Hield.
Off the basketball court, Buddy Hield is a soft spoken 22 year old man with a sweet Mid-Western/Bahamian demeanor. On the court he is a changed man. He is as ferocious and intense player you will see on any level of basketball who looks to dominate his competition. And dominate he surely has. The 6’4″ Shooting Guard averaged 16.5 points per game as a sophomore. He played even better as a junior, averaging 17.4pts and 5.4reb a game, while leading the Sooners to the Sweet 16. After being named the Big-12 Conference Player of the Year, he put his name into the NBA Draft.
THE BEST BUDDY IS YET TO COME
While Hield would have been drafted in the 2015 NBA Draft he eventually took his name out of the NBA Draft pool and decided to return to Norman, Oklahoma for one more season. He had unfinished business to attend to. What Hield has done in his senior season are how legends are made. A 46 point performance at hated rival Kansas. A standing ovation by the Kansas fans followed. This was just the beginning.
Hield has been all but unstoppable. He is currently averaging 25.4pts, 5.7reb, and 2 assists a game. The Sooners captain has played exceptional in the NCAA tournament and has put the Big-12 school into the Final 4. He is the favorite for National Player of the Year. His stock has skyrocketed all the way to where he is now a consensus top 10 pick in the upcoming 2016 NBA Draft. Some of the numerous awards that Hield has won have been:
- 2x Big 12 Player of the Year (2015- 2016)
- 2x First Team All Big-12 (2015-2016)
- First Team All-American (Sporting News- 2016)
- Sporting News College Player of the Year (2016)
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
As Buddy Hield leads the Oklahoma Sooners into Houston and this years Final 4 it will be bittersweet for Head Coach Lon Kruger. No matter what happens Lon Kruger will always cherish the day he went to Sunrise Christian Academy. What he ended up receiving was a player who will go down as one of the best ever to wear a Sooner jersey as well as a player who will have that same jersey hung up on the rafters of OU’s Lloyd Noble Center. He will accomplish his goal of making the NBA. Isn’t that what dreams are made of?
This article was previously published on 3-28-16.
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