Buford Learned From USA Trip

When he was selected to practice against Team USA, Ohio State guard William Buford said it was the highest personal honor he had achieved. Now nearly a month removed from the experience, the junior Buckeye discussed the trip with BuckeyeSports.com.

A little more wizened, William Buford is ready to teach his teammates a few things he learned from the NBA.

The junior Ohio State guard spent the week of July 19-24 on a team of 20 college all-stars chosen to practice against the 2010 USA Basketball Men's National Team. Now back in Columbus and beginning preparations for the 2010-11 season, Buford told BuckeyeSports.com that he felt his game stood up against some of the best competition in the world.

"I think I held my own pretty well," he said. "I feel like I could've done better against the USA guys but I was just playing hard and giving it my all. I think my effort was there. My effort was pretty good and I made a couple open shots. I think I did pretty well but me being a competitor I think I could've done better because we weren't winning too much."

A typical day for Buford started with a morning workout with his teammates before they walked to another gym to practice against Team USA. In essence, the group worked as a scout team and ran plays the Americans might see from their overseas competition.

Buford said he feels a couple of them might work in the Big Ten, but he added that the speed of the game was noticeably different.

"It was a lot faster," he said. "Not faster than what I expected, but it was real fast compared to the college game because of the 24-second shot clock. If you're used to running up and down and running fast breaks, you'll be pretty cool."

In addition, Buford said he picked up a few tricks he plans to teach to his teammates this season. Asked for an example, the Toledo native said, "I'm not really going to get into too much detail. I'll let you all see when the time comes."

Upon his return, Buford said his teammates were picking his brain for ideas on how they could all improve as a result of his experience.

As a sophomore, Buford averaged 14.4 points and 5.6 rebounds while starting all 37 games. The Buckeyes advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament before suffering a physical loss to Tennessee. Ironically, Buford's roommate while in Las Vegas as Vols guard Scotty Hopson.

"It went pretty well," Buford said. "He's a real nice guy and down to earth. We tried not to talk about it, but he brought it up a couple times."

Although he did not track statistics, Buford said he did not get dunked on despite guarding the likes of Oklahoma City guards Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and Philadelphia guard Andre Iguodala. However, one article on SI.com mentions Durant rejecting a layup attempt by Buford.

A story circulated on the internet that one squad featuring Buford had its NBA counterparts on the ropes before Durant hit a three-pointer in the closing seconds and the Buckeye missed his attempt to answer, but Buford offered a different version.

It was a tie.

"They cheated us that game," Buford said with a laugh. "We tied that game. They cheated us. I hit two free throws to put us up by three and then we had the ball out of bounds because they had missed and Kevin Durant stole the ball from the inbounds, shot a three and tied it up. There were 0.4 seconds left and I got the ball in the corner and shot it and it rimmed out."

Of the 20 players selected for the opportunity, 10 were chosen to travel to New York City for another week of practice. Buford was left off that squad but still said he learned things he can pass on to his Buckeye teammates.

Asked what he will most remember about the experience, Buford said, "That we were the first college group to go down there and compete against the NBA guys to try to get them prepared. I wish they keep doing it because it was a real good experience for me and the rest of the college kids.

"It was a test to see where my game was at. I learned a lot of things watching the NBA guys. It was a real good experience."


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