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Buddy Hield, Denzel Valentine build friendship amid Wooden Award talk

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Buddy Hield and Denzel Valentine, the leading candidates for the Wooden Award by most accounts, have texted each other in recent weeks with the race approaching its conclusion, Hield told ESPN.com on Wednesday.

The Bahamas native and Oklahoma star said he and Valentine, who are linked by mutual friend and Valentine's Michigan State teammate Tum Tum Nairns, usually send positive and congratulatory texts to each other.

But sometimes the contenders for the Wooden Award, the winner of which will be announced next month, talk music.

"He just tells me good game, keep it up," Hield said. "I just text him back a response: good game or something like that. He tells me something about the islands, because Tum Tum is my friend, so we just talk about reggae. They FaceTime me. It's a cool deal. He's a good kid. What he's doing is unbelievable -- how he's getting his teammates involved and trying to score too and on the defensive end."

He said they avoid trash talk, which will not change "until we play each other, if we play each other" in the NCAA tournament.

"Whoever wins [the Wooden Award], wins it," Hield said. "If I win it, I know it will be special. I'm just competing as hard as I can and trying to get the win.

Hield is averaging 25.5 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game and 1.2 steals per game. He's also shooting 47 percent from the 3-point line and 52 percent from inside the arc. Valentine (19.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 7.5 APG) could become the first player to average 19.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 7.0 APG since assists were first recorded as an official stat in the 1983-84 season.