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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Anybody’s guess: Oklahoma’s Hield predicts Sooners will win Big 12

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) celebrates a basket in front of Oklahoma State guard Tavarius Shine (5) during the first half Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, in Norman, Oklahoma. Hield, who in the offseason predicted the Sooners would win the Big 12, will lead OU against Kansas in a Big Monday meeting Monday in Allen Fieldhouse.

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) celebrates a basket in front of Oklahoma State guard Tavarius Shine (5) during the first half Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, in Norman, Oklahoma. Hield, who in the offseason predicted the Sooners would win the Big 12, will lead OU against Kansas in a Big Monday meeting Monday in Allen Fieldhouse.

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Buddy Hield thrust Oklahoma basketball into the national spotlight at last summer’s LeBron James Skills Academy when the standout guard spoke to CBSsports.com about the 2014-15 Big 12 Conference race.

“We’re gonna win the Big 12. I’m saying it right now. We’re gonna win the Big 12,” declared the 6-foot-4, 212-pound junior from Freeport, Bahamas and graduate of Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita.

Hield, who earned second-team all-league honors his sophomore season after averaging 16.5 points a game and currently ranks second in the league in scoring at a 17.6 clip, didn’t back down from his boasts at preseason Big 12 Media Day in Kansas City, Missouri.

“Why not?” Hield said, asked if the Sooners, who finished second last season, could actually place first in the league in which Kansas has claimed 10 consecutive regular-season crowns. “Every team believes they can win the Big 12 championship.

“We believe we can win. KU believes they can win. Texas, West Virginia, Iowa State, everybody believes. It’s whoever competes the hardest, fights for loose balls, grinds it out the last two minutes. That’s the team that will win the Big 12.”

How is Hield’s prediction going so far? The Sooners, who finished two games behind KU a year ago, enter Monday's 8 p.m. Big Monday contest in Allen Fieldhouse tied for fourth in the league. OU and West Virginia are 3-2, trailing second-place KU and Iowa State (3-1) and league leader Kansas State at 4-1.

Preseason All-Big 12 pick Hield, who erupted for 27 points off 10-of-10 shooting in Saturday’s 82-65 victory over Oklahoma State, actually leads the conference in scoring in league-only games (22.4). He has hit 44.7 percent of his shots overall, including 51 of 125 threes for 40.8 percent.

“I think he’s terrific,” KU coach Bill Self said, adding “we recruited Buddy. I can’t remember who we took instead (in Class of 2012, in which Hield was ranked 86th by Rivals.com). I’m not saying we could have gotten him (in a recruiting class that included Andrew White III, Anrio Adams, Perry Ellis, Zach Peters and Landen Lucas). I saw him play a ton. It was a bad miss. He was on Perry’s (Ellis) AAU team. He’s a good shooter, active. His personality is contagious. He brings life into a room, as opposed to sucking air out of it. Outside of my guys, there’s nobody I enjoy watching play more.”

Both Hield and Ellis played for Wichita’s Pray and Play Players AAU team.

“Coach Self recruited me. I had a good summer. They came at me,” Hield said. “He came to my school, talked to me one-on-one. He wanted me to come on a visit.

“I had to go to Oklahoma. I feel this is the spot for me. Not to say I wasn’t good enough to play out there. I just feel they had all those guys there. I feel Oklahoma was a better fit for me. I still respect their program. I really like their program,” Hield added of KU. “If there was anywhere else to go (besides OU), I probably would have went there.”

Of the Jayhawks’ personnel, Hield said: “I respect everybody. They are all good players. I respect Perry. Me and Perry worked out quite a bit last summer. We played on the same AAU team, so I really like Perry a lot.”

Hield confessed that in one-on-one competition, “Perry got the best of me. I’m not gonna lie. He got the best of me. One-on-one doesn’t matter right now. It’s all about the team.”

Ellis said Hield is a good friend.

“I know him real well. We played together my senior year and in AAU,” Ellis said. “Coming from Wichita, we both are from there, it’s definitely a big game for both of us.”

Hield said he has tried to make the most of his offseasons in practicing with Ellis and others in Wichita.

“I feel I’ve improved just being in the gym a lot, just being hungry,” Hield said. “Coming from Oklahoma, you have the hunger mentality. You can’t be satisfied. My mom always told me, ‘Don’t be satisfied.’ You always want more as a person. Everybody wants to be on top. I’m not going to stop until I get where I want to go.”

Big 12 Player of the Year is not out of the question.

“I just can be what I can be. I can’t worry about accolades that happen,” Hield said. “I just worry about my team. We have great chemistry, and we are trying to compete for the Big 12 championship. I am not trying to do anything except play for my team and help accomplish our goals.

“It is strange. At first I started off just being a little freshman. Now I’m one of the guys to look up to now. I’m just trying to be a better leader for our team We know what our mission is. We won’t stop until we complete this mission.”

The mission, of course, is “to be Big 12 champion. Everybody is capable of being a Big 12 champion. We’ve got to be more locked in and more mentally focused than anybody.”

About OU: The Sooners (12-5, 3-2) average 73 ppg while allowing 61.3. Three Sooners are double-digit scorers. They are: Hield (17.6), junior guard Isaiah Cousins (12.5) and senior forward TaShawn Thomas (11.5). Junior forward Ryan Spangler and soph guard Jordan Woodard average 9.5 and 7.9 ppg respectively. ... KU leads the all-time series 141-65. KU has won 12 of the last 13 meetings. ... KU is 44-7 vs. OU in Allen. KU has won 13 straight home games vs. OU. ... Self is 13-4 all-time against Oklahoma, including 13-2 while at KU. OU coach Lon Kruger is 6-15 versus Kansas, 1-5 while at OU.

Perry Ellis on OU game after tough loss Saturday: “I mean, we fought (against ISU). We got it close. Now we have to be ready for Oklahoma. We can’t have our heads down now. We can’t let one become two. We have a big game we have to get ready for now.

“We’re down. A lot of people are down but we know we have to come back and get ready for Oklahoma. That’s key.”

Devonté Graham on OU: “We have to prepare for them, forget about tonight (ISU game) and come out and get a W.”

Joel heavy?: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that former KU center Joel Embiid of the Sixers weighs 300 pounds after being 250 at KU last season. Embiid, who is out following offseason foot surgery, was sent home during the Sixers’ recent road trip after a blowup with assistant strength-and-conditioning coach James Davis. The Inquirer sources say Embiid has “blown off conditioning drills,” and some have questioned his commitment to basketball. To read the story on Embiid go to http://ljw.bz/1GgV3dJ

Comments

Jim Erickson 7 years, 6 months ago

Disappointing to watch the guys this year. It seems like the whole is worse than the sum of it's parts. There's some real talent there but we are not playing anywhere near an elite level. I for one was hoping to see Wayne and Perry become a dynamite 1-2 punch. Let's hope things get turned around.

Michael Lorraine 7 years, 6 months ago

...the whole is worse than the sum of it's parts. That's exactly how I would describe last years team. Lots of talent that never materialized. That's the risk you take when you are continually recruiting players who have no ambition of ever becoming sophomores.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 6 months ago

Except a junior and sophomore significantly underachieving are the two biggest issues with the team this year.

Jim Erickson 7 years, 6 months ago

Also... This team is utterly dependent on Cliff Alexander becoming a beast down low. Perry Ellis is not a center and is having to do too much to compensate for our lack of a true center. If Alexander gets better, Ellis will get better. CMON Cliff!

Steve Zimmerman 7 years, 6 months ago

Unfortunately, Jim, even Cliff is not enough to be a beast at true 5. He's a 4/5 hybrid. I'm afraid HCBS high-low is simply not going to work with our best 5 players, unless he forces his way through Hunter or Landon again.

Cliff can definitely make things happen, if the system supports him. Give him lobs, feed him in transition, pick-n-roll, whatever.. Defense-wise? He'll learn how to defend a 3-pt, but blocking out, he surely wouldn't want to miss that. Hopefully, he's had it with the bench-warmer penalty.

Kelly, finally avg 25min in the last 10games. Look at another similar player, Looney, he's been logging 32min avg each game, from the start of the season.

We want to see more of you, Cliff!!

Clarence Haynes 7 years, 6 months ago

Agree. Adapt and play with what you have!

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 6 months ago

Cliff is a traditional 4. He is not a 5 and will never be a 5.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 6 months ago

Why not us Mr. Hield? You can take our conference belt when you win it. Believing and doing are two different things. Game on Monday night, Buddy!

We played terrible at ISU and were down by 3 with a min. to play. I can't believe I am the voice of reason here, but we are still more than ever in this fight. A loss gets your attention lets hope it gets Cliff's. Maybe someone should show him his mock draft position if sitting on the bench is not getting it. He is dropping like a rock.

Crowd will be at full roar, and we should be a little feisty so I say we win by at least 5 tonight!

Bryce Landon 7 years, 6 months ago

Disappointed in the behavior of Joel Embiid. Coach Self would NEVER have allowed him to get away with that crap at Kansas.

Bryce Landon 7 years, 6 months ago

Given this is Oklahoma coming to town, I hope Kansas wears the gray "Chalk" uniforms tonight with the 1988-style script - as if to rub it in the Sooners' faces about who won the NCAA title that year.

Michael Lorraine 7 years, 6 months ago

And now K-state is atop the conference. The same team who suffered a colossal meltdown against Texas Southern. If you saw how that went down you are probably scratching your head right now.

Benz Junque 7 years, 6 months ago

KSU has played one game against the teams that are #2-#6 in the conference. I see them as a team that can win a few games against the good teams but not as a team that can win consistently against the good teams. If they are still in first two weeks from now then I'll start to take them a little more seriously.

Lance Cheney 7 years, 6 months ago

This just goes to show that you can sit atop the conference rankings and still miss the NCAA tournament.

Tyson Ailshie 7 years, 6 months ago

Someone needs to tell Buddy Hield that they have to win in Allen Fieldhouse first before they can win the Big 12

Cameron Cederlind 7 years, 6 months ago

Embiid must have hired Sherron for his offseason nutrition program.

Adam Bengtson 7 years, 6 months ago

Man anyone that has watched the Big 12 past decade has to know how serious "Kansas State atop the standings" means at this point. They still have to play Kansas twice, Texas twice, and Iowa state twice. Seriously get a grip.

Roger Ortega 7 years, 6 months ago

I have faith we can beat every team in our conference if we play with the intensity we played with in the final 2 minutes of the ISU loss. The problem is we can't wait until the final 2 minutes of each game to do that. Regarding our position, I know we can beat KSU so I'm hoping they can somehow pull the curtain on the "Hilton Magic" and set ISU back with another loss. OU has been playing really well, but I'm confident The Phog will slow their roll a bit, not to mention us coming off a loss we've beaten the next team we've played in double digits and pretty decidedly. Granted they weren't ranked teams but...

Tony Bandle 7 years, 6 months ago

I have been a Jayhawk for the last 49 years and I cannot for the life of me think of a team in all that time with as much talent as this team and still not have the consistency to use it!

Still, we need top step back and put things in perspective:

1] Fourteen wins. 2] Three losses, one on the road to maybe the best college team in 10 years, one on the road right before Christmas and one on the road to the 11th ranked team in America. 3] Embiid, Frankamp and Wiggins gone. 4] #2 RPI in America. 5] One of the youngest teams in Division One. 6] Ellis, Selden, Greene no where near as consistent as expected. 7] Our two biggest guys, Landon and Hunter, really not much impact. 8] Traylor almost outsized in every game. 9] Alexander still looking for his groove. 10] Svi, maybe the youngest guy in Division One.

Thank goodness for Oubre, Mason and Graham...hopefully, they can stay hot till everybody else catches up.

However, I would trade a conference title in a heartbeat for a Final Four and chance at the National Title. Let's give it another month and see how we are doing!

Kristen Downing 7 years, 6 months ago

Embiid recently lost his thirteen year old brother. Give him a break.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 6 months ago

Tony - Unfortunately, Greene is just as consistent as expected, as disappointing as that is.

Mike Riches 7 years, 6 months ago

Agreed. For whatever reason (probably for several reasons) he got KO's minutes early in the season. I don't expect to see him too much for the rest of this season, and still won't be surprised if he transfers.

Mike Riches 7 years, 6 months ago

Tonight is a more important game for us than Saturday was, and that's saying a lot. This conference race could very well come down to our final game at OU on March 7. It's crucial to hold home court tonight!

Brian Wilson 7 years, 6 months ago

This is what you call piece meal. First, Ellis is not a center or a Power Forward. IF Ellis gets to the NBA he will have to play the 3. Second, Selden is not a Shooting Guard. IF Selden gets to the NBA he will have to play Point Guard. So there in lies the problem. Neither Ellis or Selden are very good, yet, at their respective and projected positions. Third, Alexander is not a Center, he is a Power Forward, and plays out of his respective and projected NBA position when he plays Center.

If everyone played their correct projected postion, what would our lineup look like:

  1. Selden, Mason, Graham - Our best PG's would have to come off the bench or Selden sits.
  2. Svi, Greene - We would have to rely our their inconsistent play.
  3. Ellis, Oubre - Ellis and Oubre would have to share time.
  4. Alexander, Lucas - Alexander gets to develop at his correct position.
  5. Traylor, Mickelson, Lucas, - None of which are really a starting center for KU.

Very crowded at the 1 and 2. The 3 looks ok but Ellis has little experience at the position for KU. Inexperienced at the 4 and too short at the 5.

So what happened this past year. We failed to sign a Myles Turner, Selden and Ellis failed to declare for the draft. Tharpe was forced out early, and Frankamp left for Wichita State. What would our lineup have been if the reverse had all happened:

  1. Mason, Tharpe, & Graham
  2. Svi and Frankamp
  3. Oubre and Greene
  4. Alexander, Traylor, Lucas
  5. Myles Turner and Hunter Mickelson

You tell me. Which lineup do you like better?

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 6 months ago

Who has Selden projected as a PG in the NBA? I know everyone wants to project Ellis as a 3 at the college and NBA, but he doesn't have the skill set to ever be a 3. Who considers Cliff a 5? He is a prototype 4 and is used as such. He may guard the other team's biggest player, but that doesn't make him a 5.

Brian Wilson 7 years, 6 months ago

Bill Self has said in the media in the past that Selden will play PG in the NBA and that he was going to try and get Selden some minutes this year at that spot. I never said Cliff was considered a 5. I'm saying he sometimes plays the 5 for KU. I agree, Ellis may not have the skill set to play the 3 in the NBA. Ellis does play the 4 spot well in college but up against bigger players like the ones from UK he struggles.

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