NORMAN — A few weeks ago, Oklahoma assistant Steve Henson started teasing Sooners guard Buddy Hield a bit.
“Hey Brady Heslip,” Henson called to Hield, referring to Baylor’s sharpshooting 3-point specialist. “All you want to do is shoot now.”
It was all in fun, but later, Henson told Hield that he hadn’t been attacking the rim as much as he used to.
Hield was brought in to Norman as a slashing guard who could make plays near the basket. But this season, the outside shot has been Hield’s go-to offensive weapon.
Heading into Saturday’s 3 p.m. regular-season finale at TCU, Hield has hit 81 3-pointers, more than double anyone else on the team.
“I’ve just got to keep on mixing my game up and show defenses I can do a bit of everything,” Hield said. “Look for me to be more aggressive as well. I’m going to start attacking the basket more and try to develop a mid-range game.
“But if the three-ball is there, I’m not going to shy down from it.”
Wednesday against West Virginia, Hield struggled for most of the game until a four-minute stretch where he hit four 3-pointers in five attempts.
But recently, Hield has been getting to the basket with more regularity and helping open things up on the perimeter for others.
Hield started playing basketball in an outdoor court at a park near his home in Freeport, Bahamas, when he was young.
Instead of scuffing up his school shoes, he’d often run home and put on slippers that belonged to either his mom or one of his sisters.
“They used to get mad at me because every time I go on the basketball court I’d mess them up,” Hield said.
He’d also get in trouble for staying out too late at the basketball court.
“We’d be sweaty all day,” Hield said. “I used to get in trouble for us with my mom but it was worth it. I was having fun.”
His oldest brother, B.J. Simmons, didn’t have an issue with it though.
“We didn’t grow up with much,” Simmons, who is now a graduate assistant for Central Arkansas’ track team, said. “Our mom worked hard. She worked triple jobs. I was the eldest so I took care of everybody else. I didn’t have a problem with him being on the court because Buddy got in a lot of mischievous trouble. That’s just kids growing up. I’d let him go and just tell him to be back at a certain time.”
Hield idolized the game of Allen Iverson, mimicking Iverson’s pesky defense and fearless driving on offense despite his small stature.
That helped Hield when he was 5-foot-7 playing against older, bigger players on that blacktop court.
But when he sprung up several inches over one summer in middle school, it made him a force on the court.
“That motivated me to get after it more,” Hield said. “Watching my game, as a basketball player, you know you’re good enough and I thought I was good enough. I felt like I had a chance.”
If the Sooners are to be successful in the NCAA Tournament, Hield figures to have a lot to do with it, whether it’s hitting the outside shots or driving.
“It makes us a lot tougher to guard,” Hield said. “We’ve got guys who can shoot the ball so good, you really don’t know what to do. You’ve got to play them honest and if you play them honest, guys will be good to dribble. All we try to do is make plays for each other and make the right plays.”