For four seasons, they helped lead the Oklahoma men’s basketball turnaround. For four seasons, guards Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins were nearly inseparable.
Now Monday night, they go against each other. Hield and the New Orleans Pelicans take on Cousins and the Sacramento Kings at 9 p.m. CST in the NBA summer league from Las Vegas.
Cousins, drafted in the second round by Sacramento, is expected to make his summer league debut, according to multiple sources who cover the Kings. He did not play in the first two games this weekend because of a groin strain.
Hield, selected No. 6 overall in the first round by the Pelicans last month, put on a little bit of a show in a loss Sunday evening. Hield connected on five 3-pointers, making four in a row at one point to finish with a team-high 21 points.
Hield’s shooting has been a little off through the first two games, but he has been averaging 6.5 rebounds per game as well.
Hield and Cousins came to Norman together for the Class of 2012 and nobody knew much about either one of the players. Hield was a little-known Bahamian transplant out of Wichita, Kan., while Cousins was more known for being from Mount Vernon, N.Y., than because of his actual talent.
But year after year, Hield and Cousins improved as players on the court and increased the profile of Sooners basketball once again. It all culminated with last season as the duo was instrumental in helping the Sooners reach the Final Four for the first time since 2002.
Hield won back-to-back Big 12 player of the year awards and punctuated his career by winning the Wooden Award, given to the best player in college basketball.
Cousins wasn’t on anybody’s radar to make the NBA, but he made the difficult transition of moving to point guard his senior season and show scouts his all-around talent.