NORMAN — Sooner Nation, welcome freshman Buddy Hield. The Microwave.
Well, it’s a temporary nickname.
He has to continue to earn the preseason title his teammates gave him over a long stretch of games in regular-season play.
But they think he’s more than earned it for preseason production — the way he’s heated things up off the bench in both games, leading all scorers in Oklahoma’s second exhibition game against Central Oklahoma.
Hield ended the preseason with an average of 17.5 points and four rebounds.
He smiled a wide grin anytime his teammates grabbed him on the shoulder and mentioned his instant energy. His 3-point shots from the top of the arc. His constant jabber on the court.
Earlier this season, senior Sam Grooms said he thinks sometimes Hield talks just to be talking.
“He really doesn’t have anything specific he’s trying to say,” Grooms said.
Grooms also said that his energy comes from a fire that stays on full heat.
“All day, every day,” Grooms said. “What you see out of Buddy is what you’re going to get every day. Just by the way he plays and his energy, every time he hits the court you’re going to be able to tell.”
Hield also has an energy he brings off the bench that is unmatched by any other Oklahoma player. It’s the reason he first got recruited out of high school in the Bahamas. When Oklahoma coaches later saw him at a high school game at Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas, Lon Kruger received a call.
He’s really something special.
There is potential for Hield to become a starter, but Kruger said it’s also great for the Sooners to have that electric spark right from the bench. Hield has said more than once this preseason that he’s happy to produce wherever the team needs him. It’s not just a line the freshman is using, Kruger said. He really means it.
Besides, there are apparently two other electrical appliances that help the Sooners heat things up.
Freshman Je’lon Hornbeak tried to convince his cohorts that the freshmen are like a one-stop appliance shop. Hield’s the microwave, Hornbeak’s the stove and Isaiah Cousins is the oven.
They’re ready to heat it up and dish it out.
“We the buffet and we deliver,” Hornbeak said. “We’re hungry and we’re just going to eat.”
During Oklahoma’s first two exhibition games, the three freshmen produced, and newcomer Amath M’Baye combined to shoot .591 from beyond the arc (13-for-22) and .517 from the field. Hornbeak averaged 10.5 points per exhibition, while Cousins averaged 7.5.
All three freshmen said they’re excited to continue “cooking” in the regular season.
“It’s what we live for,” Hornbeak said. “We used to be on the video game playing but now it’s not a video game, we actually get to play.”