Now, Hield feels honored to be mentioned in the same breathe as LaFrentz as one of only two players to win back-to-back Big 12 Conference Player of the Year awards.
After screaming in his apartment last year after winning as a bit of an unexpected choice, Hield was the runaway winner this year after being named as the conference’s preseason player of the year. His historic season, which ranked as one of the best individual performances in Big 12 history, made him an easy selection by eight of the league’s 10 coaches.
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger couldn’t vote for a player on his own team. Kruger didn’t need to for Hield to win. But Hield, who said he just casually brushed the award off this year because of the impending Big 12 Championship, knew he had a chance to win it again.
“I had the confidence knowing I could do it again,” he said. “Because nobody believed I could do it again. My confidence is always high. I set a high standard for myself. I stay quiet and humbly work. No matter what happens, I’m going to compete as hard as I can.”
On Monday, Hield became the first player in conference history to be named Associated Press Big 12 Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons. he was also named to the USA Today All-American team and the Sporting News Player of the Year.
After becoming only the second player in Oklahoma program history to win the Big 12’s top individual honor last year by matching Blake Griffin’s feat, Hield became only the second player in Big 12 history to win it twice. Although, he did match his coach’s feat from the early 1970s, when Kruger won back-to-back Big Eight Player of the Year awards as Kansas State’s point guard.
“He surpassed that a long time ago,” Kruger said of he and Hield being on the same level with a laugh. “Just happy for him and great to see. It's easy to cheer for a guy that's worked so hard. Nice to see good things come.”
Hield is currently fourth on Oklahoma's all-time scoring list.
After deciding to come back for his senior season, Hield averaged 25.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He shot 49.5 percent from the field and 47.3 percent from behind the 3-point arc. All four were new career highs for the preseason first-team All-American.
Hield led the Big 12 in scoring by almost six points per game and was second in the league in minutes played. He finished first in free-throw percentage, 3-point percent and 3-pointers made. Hield led the nation in 3-point percentage and was third in 3-pointers made.
His scoring average placed him second in the NCAA and first among Power 5 conference players.
Hield credited his teammates Sunday afternoon for helping him win the awardand quickly turned his attention back to cutting down the nets at the end of the Big 12 Championship, which opens at 8 p.m. Thursday against Iowa State for the Oklahoma Sooners.
It was Hield who is the conference’s best player for the second-straight year.
“It’s hard, but it’s just fun,” Hield said. “You’ve gotta go out there and compete. It’s a grind each day. You go out there and practice, work out. Especially in game times, building up the momentum in the games and the hype and anxiety, it’s fun going out and proving people wrong and competing as hard as you can. I feel like if you compete, you can get results. Anything can happen for you.”
"It’s great," Kruger said. "You talk all the time about individual awards coming to teams that do well and teams that have good years. I think that’s a reflection of the fact the team had a good year. A lot of individuals contributed to that."
Oklahoma State point guard Jawun Evans led the Cowboys in points per game and was named Freshman of the Year. Texas forward Prince Ibeh, who finished the season with 60 blocks, was named Defensive Player of the Year. Texas Tech had its highest win total in five years, and coach Tubby Smith was named Coach of the Year. Iowa State's Deonte Burton was named Newcomer of the Year. West Virginia's Jaysean Paige was named Sixth Man of the Year.