Buford To Enjoy Personal Top Honor

His junior year is shaping up to be a big one for Ohio State, and William Buford landed a new honor Thursday afternoon. The Toledo native will have the opportunity to play against some of the nation's best, and he spoke to BuckeyeSports.com about the occasion.

Entering his third season at Ohio State, William Buford is not short for awards and honors. His most recent one, however, has taken the cake.

Following a Thursday workout session, Buford found out he had been one of 20 college basketball players selected to practice against the U.S. National Team from July 19-24. His first phone call went to his parents.

"This is the happiest he's ever been in his life as far as basketball," his father, William Sr., told BuckeyeSports.com. "This beat his McDonald's All-American (game) and Jordan games and all that. He was just so excited."

It was an honor that caught Buford by surprise.

"I was just real excited," he said. "Just to be invited is great. It feels like an honor to play against some of the greatest players in the world and to showcase my talent against them."

As a member of the USA Men's Select Team, Buford will suit up with a few fellow players of the Big Ten. Also on the roster is Purdue forward JaJuan Johnson, Wisconsin center Jon Leuer, Northwestern forward John Shurna and Illinois center Mike Tisdale. Nineteen of the 20 players on the squad hail from different teams, with Duke the only team to boast two cagers on the roster.

In the immediate aftermath of his selection, Buford said he was not aware of who he would be playing for or playing against. Rather, he was simply honored by the opportunity.

The opportunity is the second such honor afforded this summer to Buford, who recently spent some time at a Paul Pierce camp in Chicago. In each instance, Buford said his goal is to pick up on little things he can use to improve his own game and then help his teammates.

"I just picked up a couple moves that I've seen and I'm working on my own on some work-ethic things," he said. "I've just been picking up things that I like that I've learned from older coaches and people like that. I've been playing against a lot of great players in the camps I've been to. I'm just observing, trying to pick up on things that can help my game."

According to his father, the two camps have given Buford Jr. a feeling of respect – his primary goal.

"That's a big thing for him," his dad said. "That's one of the main reasons he didn't jump to the NBA, because he knew that he wouldn't be able to contribute right off the giddy-up. He doesn't want to sit back and wait. He knew he was getting respect, but we had (Evan Turner) there and (Buford) was just waiting his turn."

The Buckeyes return all but one starter from last year's team that captured a share of the Big Ten title, but that departed player is Turner, the reigning conference player of the year. This year's team will welcome in six freshman as well as one transfer student, but Buford said he does not feel he will miss out on the team's growth while he is gone for a week.

Buford said he has been focusing on improving his skills on defense as well as his ability to handle the ball but added that the coaches have not discussed who will step into the void at point guard this fall.

Turner was the team's leading scorer and rebounder but Buford was second in both categories with averages of 14.4 and 5.6, respectively.

Asked if it is important for him to grow this summer to help shoulder more team responsibility this fall, Buford said, "Oh yeah, of course. It's real important for the rest of the team to do the same thing. I'm just going to try to pick up what I can and do whatever I need to do to help the team win this season."

He will not be the only Buckeye on the roster with Team USA experience. Turner suited up for his country in the World University Games last summer, while Lighty played for the U-19 team in the World Championships the year before that.

"They said it was a real honor and it was real fun," Buford said. "I'm going to call them and talk to Evan and talk to David to see if they can give me any pointers that will help me out."

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