by RENALDO DORSETT
HOUSTON, Texas – The Oklahoma Sooners were on the wrong side of history. Saturday night’s Final Four produced the kind of gut punching loss that could rattle a person or expose the negative aspects of one’s character.
For Buddy Hield it offered another opportunity to show his courage under fire as he responded to his Sooners 95-51 loss to Villanova.
Hield faced interviews from ESPN followed by the post game press conference and a horde of media in the locker room, staying on message the entire time.
“You never want to go out like this. I’m sorry to all the Sooner fans who took time out their schedule to come out here. I’m sorry to all the fans back home in the Bahamas, I know everyone was pulling for me, but we let them down. Not just losing, but losing by 40 is unheard of from this team. They took us out of rhythm and we missed a lot of shots that we usually make,” he said, This one will hurt a little bit. Its tough to go out like this. Games like this, they could define your career. You want to go out there, prove everybody wrong and win a national championship for your school. Not being my best on the biggest stage kind of hurts.”
It was the worst time possible for Hield to have his second lowest point total of the season, faced against a Villanova team that shot the second best field goal percentage in Final Four history. The only team to surpass Villanova’s blistering 71 percent from Saturday night, was the 1985 Villanova team that played “the perfect game” and shot 78 percent en route to upsetting overwhelming favourite Georgetown.
It was a complete turnaround from this season’s previous meeting against Villanova, when Oklahoma won 78-55, December 7 at the Pearl Harbor Classic.
“I got good looks, set shots I just missed them. I was aggressive in the first half but when a team is making shots like that, it just sucks the life out of you,” Hield said, “You’ll think you have something going your way and they’ll find a way to turn it around. They basically did what we did to them in Hawaii. There are my brothers for life. Life goes on, we can’t let this game define us.”
Hield’s attention will now shift to the John R Wooden Player of the Year Award which will be presented April 8. Hield is one of five finalists on the ballot.
He will then have roughly a month to prepare for the NBA Draft Combine which takes place May 11-15 in Chicago, Illinois.
The NBA Draft takes place June 23 in Brooklyn, New York.
“Got to go chase my dreams next. Play in the NBA if I get a chance, I’ll take the opportunity and make the best out of it,” Hield said.
Hield is projected by virtually every reputed mock draft or scouting service to be taken in the lottery.
NBAdraft.net projects him to go third overall, ESPN.com projects him as the sixth overall selection while DraftExpress suggests he will go at No.7.