Considered to be anywhere from a late first-round pick to a mid-second rounder, Hield has just a few weeks to decide whether he will forgo his final season with the Sooners and enter the NBA Draft or if he’ll return to what should be an improved Oklahoma team that made the Sweet 16 this season.
“It’s nerve-racking. I’m nervous,” Hield said. “You’re playing with your life right now. Regardless of what happens, I’m going to make money. You just want to end up in the right place.
“Everybody wants to go and play in the NBA. That’s where I want to go. If it doesn’t happen this year, I’m just going to wait on my senior year – probably get a better draft choice and a better draft pick.”
Hield doesn’t have a personal timeline to make a decision so he’ll have to stick with the NBA’s schedule. The draft is on June 25, but Hield will have to make a decision long before that.
Hield, who was named the Big 12 Player of the Year and a third-team All-American averaged 17.4 points and 5.4 rebounds this season while developing more as an all-around scorer. There’s an NBA Draft camp in Chicago that Hield can attend whether he goes to the NBA or not, but ultimately, he has to make a final decision by April 26 – the final day to enter the draft as an underclassman.
“I’ll see how things work out for me,” Hield said. “If things go like planned, it’s a win-win situation for me – come back to school and finish my senior year and my career. It’ll be a good year with a top-10 program with the other guys that come in. It should be fun, no matter what.”
Hield hasn’t heard much back from experts, saying only that he saw a couple projections that put him in the late first round. There are still questions about Hield’s size, his defense and his ball handling abilities that might cause teams to pass on him.
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, who has consistently said that Hield’s decision is a win-win for the Sooners, said that if Hield is a “definite first-rounder” then Oklahoma would be thrilled and it would be understood that Hield would go to the NBA.
“Buddy is doing exactly what he should do, in terms of gathering as much information as he can,” Kruger said. “Buddy’s done such a fantastic job here. A whole lot of people would like to be in Buddy’s shoes. It’s going to be good either way. . . . That’s what we want for him. If it’s not to happen right now, he’ll make as much progress next year as he did last. He’ll jump much higher slot the following year. “