Frosh Hield adjusting to college ball
Guard wants to be the 'garbage guy' for Oklahoma hoops this season
NORMAN, Okla. -- While some freshmen enter college basketball with visions of starting from Day 1, dominating games and leaving early for the NBA, Buddy Hield has a different goal for his freshman season at the University of Oklahoma.
"I just want to come to play every game, with scoring or just being an energy guy," Hield said. "I want to be the garbage guy on the team, make all of the hustle plays. I want to be an energy guy who competes on the court."
But expect Hield to be much more than a "garbage guy" during his first year. A talented and competitive off-guard with good size at 6-foot-4, Hield should become a key contributor this season.
"I like Buddy a lot," senior forward Romero Osby said. "He can score and he can defend when he wants. He'll get better on that end as he learns how we do it defensively. He's strong, he has a real good motor, he always plays hard.
Hield's summer arrival in Norman has been beneficial. Playing pickup games with his teammates and getting used to a college strength and conditioning program should pay off in the long run.
"It's helped me greatly," said Hield, who was ranked by ESPN.com as the No. 3 player in Kansas. "I've grown a lot. Finishing high school basketball, coming to a new environment is like going from step A to step B. If I played high school basketball now, I'd probably dominate [laughing]."
It hasn't been the mental adjustment to college as much as learning how to play at the Big 12 level.
"In pickup [games] I've learned I have to be stronger, attack screens harder and know when to make decisions or not," Hield said. "Every day I'm getting better and I just keep learning every day.
"You watch college basketball and it seems easy on TV, but it is not easy. It's been a good adjustment for me to learn to really compete for it."
He stepped on campus with a lot of vigor, but the standout scoring guard might need to tone it down a bit to fulfill his potential during his first year.
"Sometimes he plays so hard, he's all over the place," Osby said. "He plays so hard, so fast, he gets ahead of himself a little bit. He's thinking, 'I need to make this next play,' but his body has to catch up with what he's trying to do."
It's always easier to tone a player down than try to get him to play harder, so Hield's aggression and competitiveness should be considered assets. When asked what attribute Hield brings to the Sooners, Osby didn't hesitate with a quick answer.
"How hard he plays all the time," he said. "There's never a time when he slows down."
The Sooners could have used that type of mindset on its roster last season, so no matter what role Hield eventually settles into, expect a major contribution from the guard.
"If you start or come off the bench, there's something you have to bring to the team," he said. "High school was pretty easy to score the basketball; this is a challenge for me. I need to stay focused on what I have to accomplish and what I want to continue to accomplish as the years go past."
And he wants to make sure the Sooners take a step forward this winter as coach Lon Kruger continues to rebuild the program.
"The last few years we've been under the radar," Hield said. "We want to bring it up and make the NCAA tournament. We'll hope for the best, try to finish in the top 3 in the Big 12 and make the tournament. Keep pushing to get better and continue to build the program."