Buddy Hield to return to OU for senior season

High-scoring junior guard makes last-minute choice to remain with Sooners

Even this morning, Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield didn’t know which side of the NBA decision he was going to land on – though his announcement press conference had been scheduled.

He spoke with his family, who instructed him to do whatever was best for him even knowing how going to the NBA could change their lives. He remembered his teammates like his roommate and close friend Isaiah Cousins, who has become a gym rat alongside Hield.

Hield talked with his coaches, thought about earning his degree and he prayed. Ultimately, he decided that coming back to Oklahoma for his senior year was his best course of action, announcing it Friday morning.

“Everyone had different opinions, but I knew what was best for me,” Hield said. “You have to be smart. You can’t go in there and a take a gamble and bury yourself. I just know the best decision was to comeback and improve. That way when the time comes, I’ll be ready.”

Last year, Hield averaged 17.4 points, OU's highest average since Blake Griffin during the 2008-09 season, to lead the Big 12 Conference while becoming the first player in conference history to win player of the year, the league scoring title and be named to the All-Academic team.

He was a third-team All-American and was one of 15 finalists for the Woodard Award, given every year to the national player of the year.

Hield led Oklahoma to the Sweet 16 thispart season, winning his first Big 12 Tournament game and his first NCAA Tournament game in the process and was generally considered to be a late-first round or early-second round selection in the NBA Draft.

“As soon as the season as over, he had a plan of what he was going to considered throughout this process,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “The maturity with he’s approached this is really admirable. He’s grown every year and has so many things in the right order.

“He wants to play in the NBA. That’s what’s most impressive. That lure is hard to put on hold for a year. . . . He has a great ceiling there. He’s gonna keep getting better and better.”

Hield walked into the backroom of the Lloyd Noble Center early, just a few minutes before his scheduled announcement with a stressful look on his face. He sat down at the podium amazed by all the cameras and for the first time in his three year at Oklahoma actually looked a little gunshy.

Seconds before the announcement, he placed his hands in front of his face. Hield was obviously still very nervous. Once he made the announcement all that was gone.

Hield was his normal self.

“You all next year will have to put up with me,” Hield said less than a breathe after announcing his decision.

A few minutes later, Hield joked again about coming back to college.

“You don’t want to know how fun college is for me,” he said with a big smile that drew a laugh from those in attendance.

Hield, who never considered declaring for the draft but not hiring an agent to further investigate his options, will be back at Oklahoma for one more year. He was confident in the information that Kruger and the coaching staff provided to him during the process.

He had his mind made up, but it wasn’t always that he was going to return. That final choice didn’t come until his 7 a.m. phone call with his mother on Friday morning.

“I had it in my mind for a long time, “ Hield said. “I made my mind up, my decision. I was telling people I was going. I was joking around, but I really meant it. I just knew it wasn’t the right decision for me. I had to be smart and be wise and make the right choices that I needed to make.”

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories