College basketball’s National Player of the Year is going to be awarded to a four-year senior, which in this era means Buddy Hield is destined to play in the D League and is the second coming of Jimmer Fredette.
You remember Jimmer. He was a lottery pick of the Milwaukee Bucks in 2011 - the 10th overall pick - was immediately shipped to Sacramento where it was soon discovered he couldn’t play. Jimmer could kill it from anywhere at BYU but never found the time or the space to get his shot off in the NBA.
He lasted five NBA seasons and this weekend he scored 35 points and was named the MVP All-Star game in the D-League. Beats carrying boxes for a living.
Like Jimmer, Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield is the rare animal who stayed, and excelled, all four years at the college level. He should have an NBA job waiting for him in June but if he wants to secure his status he must learn to put the ball on the floor and go at the rim or he’s going just to be a slightly better Jimmer.
It’s worth noting Jimmer is 6-foot-2 whereas Buddy is 6-foot-4.
I watched Hield play Kansas on Saturday in Norman and it is hard not to be impressed with his quick release and ability to move without the ball. Teams are doing everything they can to sit on Hield and not let him free but he still finds ways to create open looks on 3-pointers.
He averages more than 25 points per game and hits just under 50 percent on his 3-point attempts. More than half of his shots from the floor are three-pointers. Every Oklahoma player does a wonderful job of finding Hield, especially in transition where he he is a wonderful catch, stop and shoot shooter.
As a shooter, he is an NBA player. As an NBA guard, he must be able to put the ball on the floor and create some space. In the league, guys are going to just sit on him from the outside and there will be limited chances for a catch and shoot.
The only knock on Hield is that he does not try to take his man off the dribble to create his own shot, or a look for others. He either doesn’t because he can’t, or is not confident in his ability. Jimmer had the same problem, among a few others.
The difference is Jimmer could not defend the perimeter whereas Hield’s length can create problems for opposing guards.
On Saturday, more than a dozen NBA teams sent scouts to watch the Oklahoma/Kansas game, a great many of whom were curious about KU freshman forward Cheick Diallo. Scouts have seen Hield for so long and there is so much “tape” on his game that by now they know him.
He’s a great college player who will be named the National Player of the Year, and he will be a first round pick, and he will just have to expand his game or he will be the next Jimmer.