Sooners Illustrated takes a quick look at Oklahoma's key players

It's now or never for Buddy Hield, who looks to lead Oklahoma with his best season

Two weeks from the start of the regular season against Memphis, and Sooners Illustrated is set to breakdown the 11 scholarship players on the Oklahoma Sooners' roster.

We’ll look at importance for this year’s team, a quick recap of last season and a project final stat line.

No. 24 Buddy Hield (6-foot-4, 214 pounds)

Big 12 Conference Player of the Year, Third-team All-American, 17.4 points per game, 5.4 rebounds, 41.2 shooting percentage, 93 3-pointers

What happened last year: It’s a well-documented tale: Big 12 Player of the Year, Sweet 16 appearance, led the conference in scoring, led the Big 12 in 3-pointers made. He had one heck of a junior season, proving that he can score from just about any spot on the court.

There were plenty of highlights: His run of 3-pointers in the Bahamas and the tip-in against Kansas in the regular-season finale.

There were lowlights, too. He didn’t shine in the Big 12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. In postseason play last season, Hield never shot better than 38 percent from the field. He’s season average last year was 41.2 percent.

His shooting percentage all-around were down last year from his sophomore campaign but his usage jumped – taking 58 more shots last year than the season before.

Everything else jumped too: Points, assists, rebounds.

Level of importance for Oklahoma (1-10): 10. Oklahoma is no different than the rest of the nation. The Sooners can’t afford to lose their best player, especially one that’s a preseason first-team All-American with his sights set on a lottery pick in the NBA Draft.

Outside of Providence and Kris Dunn or LSU and Ben Simmons, there might not be a single player more important to his team than Hield to Oklahoma.

With Hield, the Sooners are a legit national championship contender – making the Sweet 16 and then anything can happen.

Without Hield, the Sweet 16 is the ceiling. Oklahoma would probably have to do it in an upset. That’s the case with just about any team.

He’s bigger, he’s more experienced and Hield seems ready to take the next step. He made a spin move in the lane against Mid-America Christian that he probably wouldn’t have pulled off last year. Getting in the gym has never been an issue for Hield. He’s working on his game, and it’s showing.

Projected stat line: 16.5 points per game, 7 rebounds per game, 3 assists per game, 28 minutes per game, 45 shooting percentage, 58 turnovers (would be a three-year low as a starter)

Yep, that’s a drop in scoring for Hield, which doesn’t mean he has a drop-off in production. Hield has played more than 30 minutes per game in each of the last two years, including at least 31 minutes in 13 of Oklahoma’s last 15 games. With the increased depth, it should limit the need for Hield to produce just minutes. Instead, he focuses on producing points and efficiency this season – although volume scoring has always been Hield forte.

Hield took double-digit shots in all but two games last season. Expect that to drop a hair but Hield’s shots this year should look better. As a result, Hield should get a bump in his shooting percentage as well. Hield’s aim is simple: His best personal season and Oklahoma’s best season in almost a decade.

His goals, his words: “Win the Big 12 Championship. It’s as simple as that. Then go as far as we can in the NCAA Tournament.”

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