Will Buford Get Another?

Toledo Libbey sensation William Buford is not only proving to be one of the nation's top basketball prospects. He is proving to be a winner, as he already has two AAU national titles. Can he make it three this week?

Last year at this time, William Buford and the 15-under D-1 Greyhounds won the AAU national championship. This year, he did it again with the 16-under team.

But as we head into the 2006 AAU 17-under National Championship in Orlando this week, he's hoping to land a trifecta – a third title.

That's exactly what's at stake for Buford, the 6-5 junior from Toledo Libbey. And he's got two chances to do it because if he strikes out later this week, he can always try it again next year before his senior season.

The Greyhounds won the 16-under championship last week in Little Rock, Ark behind Buford and his buddies. Granted, Buford wasn't alone – his teammates include talented 6-6 Darius Miller, point guard Damon Butler and also forward Chris Grimes, but Buford was stellar carrying over from the ABCD Camp in Teaneck, NJ he had just been named co-underclassman of the week.

"His performance in Arkansas carried right over from ABCD camp," said D-1 assistant Keith McClure, also Buford's assistant coach at Libbey. "He came there with a great amount of confidence that no one was going to stop him and he was ready to go."

Winning the national championship for the second consecutive season was a big thrill to McClure, who has seen Buford's potential close-up both back at home in Toledo and on the road with the Greyhounds.

McClure said he saw a lot of poise and determination with this group to capture the title in Arkansas.

"That was real exciting winning two in a row," he told Bucknuts.com this past week. "We really wanted it – the kids really wanted it. It was a lot of fun."

It wasn't easy.

In tournament play alone, the Greyhounds had four games – two of which they won by a single point, a semifinal game they won by three points and then the championship game was won by five points.

Each game took a ton of effort, poise and execution at the end to win these games.

"We took one game at a time and every bracket game was like a championship game," McClure added. "Indiana Elite was a tough game (in the first round), Westchester was tough, we had a team from Virginia that played us real tough – it was a very competitive field. We didn't have it easy."

Perhaps the most rewarding game, however, was in the semifinal when the Greyhounds defeated the Westchester Hawks 78-75.

The Hawks held the distinction of the only team to beat the D-1 16-under team thus far this spring and summer. They beat the Greyhounds in the championship of the King James Shooting Stars Classic.

So revenge was nice for the Greyhounds.

"We did get it when it counted the most," McClure admitted. "I think that was a good team, and they gave us a really good game. Our kids were looking forward to the rematch and they pulled it out. We actually considered that to be one of the championship game – it could have been the championship with these two teams playing as good as they had."

Buford has become one of the top prospects in the class of 2008 nationally. In fact, ScoutHoops.com now has him rated as the No. 14 prospect overall in the entire country.

He continues to climb the charts and place himself as one of the nation's elite.

"It's just amazing – he surprised me once again," McClure said with a bit of astonishment in his voice. "I would hate to see it if this is just the beginning of his improvement.

"I was really impressed," he added.

Although Buford has a shot to get that 17-under title this week, even if they miss, he's got a chance next year with the rest of his teammates.

Once that core group of players is 17-under, McClure thinks they have a solid chance to win a title again next season.

"That's a winning team," he said. "They step up. They're hungry. They play well together and have fun playing."

The best attribute is that they have great chemistry.

"They're very unselfish," McClure added. "We usually have all our starters in double-figures and then we have Courtney Davis coming off the bench."

There may only be one selfish desire for Buford.

That's a quest for a third national title.

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