Most of college basketball fans are enamored with some of the elite freshmen in the country, who in no doubt have a lot of talent. Players such as LSU’s Ben Simmons and Kentucky’s Jamal Murray will undoubtedly be lottery picks and are some of the best NBA prospects, but they are not college basketball’s best player.
The best player in college basketball is Buddy Hield of the Oklahoma Sooners. He is a senior that has used his years in college to develop. Hield came to Oklahoma as a four star prospect, according to ESPN, who wasn’t recruited by a lot of the big time college basketball powers. In his freshman season he averaged just 7.8 points per game, despite playing over 25.5 minutes per game.
He has grown each year and got recognition last year, his junior season, after leading Oklahoma to a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the NCAA tournament. He averaged 17.4 points per game and had his best season as a collegiate athlete.
This season Hield has taken his game to another level. He is averaging 26.3 points per game, which is the second best scoring average in the country. He has been equally good at getting to the basket and shooting from the outside to gain his points. Playing the wing in college basketball doesn’t give players too many opportunities to get assists, but he still averages 2.2 assists per game, which is a career high. Along with his scoring and passing he is also pulling down a career high 5.5 rebounds per game.
One of his greatest accomplishments this season is his shooting percentages. He is extremely close to shooting 50% from the field, 50% from the three point line and 90% from the free throw line. He is currently shooting above 50% from the field and the three point line, but is .2 percentage points away from the 90% needed from the free throw line. To put that in comparison, the NBA has only had six players join the 50-40-90 club, which is 50% from the field, 40% from the three point line and 90%from the free throw line. With Hield shooting so well from the three point line he has a great shot at keeping his average above 40% for the season.
His great shooting ability helped him have the greatest performance in recent college basketball history. Oklahoma, the number two team in the country, traveled to Phog Allen Fieldhouse to face the number one rated Kansas Jayhawks for the fortieth all time meeting between the top two ranked teams in the AP poll.
Hield showed up big time for the Sooners in their three overtime thriller. The two other stars on Oklahoma, center Ryan Spangler and guard Isaiah Cousins, did’t help a lot in the scoring department, so Hield had to carry the team. He scored 46 points on 13 of 25 shooting and hit eight three point field goals, which is good enough for the second most points scored by a player for one game in Big 12 history. He also had eight rebounds and seven assists for good measure. Oklahoma came up a little bit short in the end, but taking the number one team to three overtimes was an impressive feat for the Hield-led Sooners.
One way to tell a player is good is when the opposing teams give a player a standing ovation. In one of the toughest places to play, Hield had a great performance that resulted with the Kansas faithful cheering him after the game. That is something that is reserved for only the best of the best.