Buddy Hield felt nervous. That was a good feeling.
He was glad it had returned.
Those “I'm-a-starter” jitters had been missing since last year, when he played for Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kan.
On Saturday, the jitters returned, along with some close friends from Sunrise, for his first career start as an Oklahoma Sooner basketball player. Some of the those friends, such as the Simoneau family, will be on hand to watch Hield on Monday afternoon, when OU plays Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the teams' final game of 2012.
Hield's principal from Sunrise will be there, too, but Hield doesn't think the nervousness will return. He knows the jitters were prevalent Saturday in the first half against Ohio. Hield said that's the reason he only had one assist, two steals and one rebound to end the first half.
Hield knows he didn't perform shot-wise as he usually does. His coach knows that. Teammates are aware as well. None cared. Those jitters didn't stop Hield from turning out a seven assist, four-steal performance.
Hield still brought energy. He was the same old Buddy as a starter as he was off the bench.
Hield's support system from Sunrise is, he said, what made that start even more memorable.
His high school friends and other close friends he calls his “second family” follow him and watch his games. Hield former high school basketball team once came to practice.
He pesters OU teammates for tickets to give to those from Sunrise who want to watch him play. Supporters talk to Hield on the phone or via social media. Tim Simoneau's son likes to hold the phone and say, “What, Buddy?” since Hield's thick accent and quick speech sometimes makes him hard to understand.
They say he's the same old Buddy. Always talkative. Always smiling.
Romero Osby said he's never been surprised by how much Buddy can talk — while guarding an opponent or just being a friend. Hield was like that when Osby served as his recruiting host.
“That was cool because I talk a lot, too,” Osby said. “We had a lot of long conversations.”
Hield also brought an energy — one that Osby said has left a mark on the entire team. The Sooners want to work more.
That lack of energy was evident during the first 20 minutes of Oklahoma's game against Ohio, but in the last 20, Hield guarded aggressively, stole the basketball, fed teammates who made baskets.
Hield made it through his first career start, and the Sooners won to boot.
He's now projected to make his second start, Monday against Corpus Christi, and he said he'll gladly welcome his “starter jitters” again.
He'd just like a few more baskets to come with them.