Buford Making A Big Splash

Ohio has been blessed with top-tier basketball talent in recent years, from LeBron James to Daequan Cook to David Lighty to O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker. Some feel the next national recruit could be Toledo Libby's William Buford. Kyle Lamb tells us more about this player.

Mommas don't let your babies grow up to be Cowboys. That is unless, of course, that Cowboy is William Buford.

Buford is the 6-5 pride and joy of the Libbey Cowboys in Toledo. Already ranked No. 6 of all shooting guards in the class of 2008 by ScoutHoops.com, Buford's star is just beginning to shine bright.

In fact, Buford is No. 18 overall in the Scout post-spring rankings. That's a number figured to go higher before it's all said and done.

When Keith McClure, a D-1 Greyhounds and Libbey assistant as well as the man handling Buford's recruiting process, sees Buford, he sees a kid oozing with potential. He sees a kid that's barely begun to reach his limit.

"Oh that's the truth," McClure says matter-of-factly. "He's just beginning to tap into it."

McClure also sees a wing that burst onto the high school scene averaging 14.2 points and 7.5 rebounds a game as a freshman two years ago.

His grand entrance quickly grabbed the attention of college coaches and also recruiting analysts. Chris Johnson of the HoopscoopOnline.com saw Buford's potential.

Johnson spoke highly of Buford in the spring of 2005.

"Increasing his outside shot will be a key," Johnson noted in March of last year.  "All early indications are that he will be a high D-I player.  He's very athletic, and very tough, and he plays under great control for a freshman."

In the months that followed, Buford did improve his outside shot. Now he's feared every bit as much behind the arc as he is on the fast break and in the paint.

Buford took his game to another level early this past year, his sophomore season, against Ohio State-bound Daequan Cook and Dayton Dunbar at the Power Shootout in Chillicothe last December.

He scored 29 points against the McDonald's All-American and grabbed 13 rebounds. Comparisons followed Buford as being a younger Daequan Cook minus the mid-range game.

"I'll tell you what I told the Libbey coaches this last time we scrimmaged them this past week," said Al Powell, a Dunbar assistant, "that kid (Buford) is the Daequan Cook of the North."

Buford followed his big game against Dunbar with encore performances the next week in Canton. On back-to-back nights, Buford scored 22 points against what is now two-time defending Division I State Champions Canton McKinley and 28 points against Michigan powerhouse Detroit Redford.

For the season, Buford ended up averaging 22.4 points and 11 rebounds a game.

His stellar sophomore campaign landed him on the top of the talented 2008 list in Ohio, which includes Delvon Roe, Yancy Gates, B.J. Mullens and Kenny Frease according to Johnson's latest Ohio rankings.

"Fortunately he's not a cocky kid," McClure said. "He's willing and eager to learn. He's willing to work hard, he's willing to go through structure and he's willing to get better."

Ego and attitude are some of the many pitfalls of success.

But at Libbey, the inner city and also academics have claimed the potential careers of many other potential stars trying to make it to the next level. Another former Libbey star, Nate Miles, is trying to work his way back to being a top shelf prospect at a private school down in Texas.

McClure hopes that Buford's stable family life and strong support system will help him avoid those obstacles.

"William has a great family and parents that are supportive," McClure explained. "It's a tough lesson to learn if you're not prepared for it."

No one around Buford has to look far for examples of how much success can wear on a person or how much academics and life in the inner city can defeat a person.

While Miles is living proof of the traps that can lie ahead, Buford's 17-under teammate in the D-I program, O.J. Mayo, is an example Buford can learn from.

How Mayo has conducted himself through the enormous pressure is one thing, but McClure says there are other lessons to be learned from him.

"I think it's an example of what it takes to make it in the inner city," he adds. "You make choices in life and I think Williams has seen what can happen if you don't make the right choices."

If Buford makes all the right choices, the rest may take care of itself.

Projected as a two or three in college, Buford is already 6-5 and has extremely long arms and legs. The length of his limbs, according to McClure, may be a sign that he's yet to go through a growth spurt.

That could make Buford 6-6 or 6-7 when it's all said and done.

"He's really got a savvy about him, the kind Daequan has," Powell said. "He's a good ball-handler, he can play inside, he can play outside and he's really explosive."

Powell says coaches know about Buford. In fact, he said some coaches have even asked him about Buford because he's coached against him and is familiar with his situation.

According to McClure, coaches from Michigan, Arkansas, Louisville, Ohio State, Michigan State and many others have been recruiting Buford. And it's only just beginning.

"He's doing a great job with that," McClure said of how Buford is handling the process. "He's enjoying the contacts, the calls, the letters. He's got two more years to finish up."

The race to land Buford has already started in full force.

"I actually just told (Ohio State assistant coach) John Groce that they got to get him," Powell said. "He's got to be at Ohio State."

Ohio State is heavily involved with Buford, but they aren't alone. Buford has already taken trips to Columbus and East Lansing to watch Ohio State and Michigan State games this past year.

The experience was a meaningful one for Buford according to McClure.

"I think that helps," he said. "It gave him (Buford) some kind of idea of what it takes to get there. We enjoy watching the game and the size of athletes and what it takes to be successful."

McClure expects Buford to make a decision on college sometime in the middle of his junior year or towards the early part of next spring.

In the meantime, he says it's essential to get Buford on a weight program and just continue to improve.

"He's playing every weekend and getting better every weekend," McClure said, "but the strength part is a big deal."

This Cowboy is growing up in a hurry.

 


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