DALLAS — Buddy Hield isn't going to say he doesn't think about the possibility of reinjuring his foot.
“You always think about it,” Hield said. “You don't want to get hurt. But whatever's for me, it's for me. I've got to leave it in God's hand in my situation.”
Hield broke his left foot in early February during a win over TCU.
Then he re-aggravated the injury in August just before the Sooners left on their European exhibition trip.
But the sophomore guard looks like he's fully healed and improved from last year as Oklahoma opens its season against Alabama at 4 p.m. Friday at Dallas' American Airlines Center.
“Buddy's done a terrific job,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “His energy and enthusiasm, he just brings it naturally every day. Because of that, it's fun to watch him progress. He's going to become a terrific scorer as well as all-around player.”
Hield is the Sooners' leading returner in points (7.8), rebounds (4.2), assists (1.9) and steals (1.2).
But that production dropped off when he returned after missing three weeks due to injury.
Hield averaged just 3.5 points per game in his four games back.
That sent Hield back to the drawing board with his offensive game, seeking to rediscover the consistency he had earlier in his freshman season.
“I developed my jump shot and made that better,” Hield said. “I was a shooter in high school but fell off last year. Being more mentally focused, I think I'm ready to make that step to become a better basketball player this year.”
He changed his shot, seeking to add more arc through work with Sooners assistant Steve Henson.
Even with Hield held out of action in Europe, he still played a role in the preseason trip, helping the Sooners young guards — Frank Booker and Jordan Woodard — develop.
“No question,” Kruger said. “If he didn't shoot a shot in practice, he would affect us in a real positive way. His energy and enthusiasm, he brings that to practice. It's the same thing in the locker room. He's a big part of everything we do.”
Hield certainly looked like he was back fully Monday night in the exhibition finale against Oklahoma Christian, scoring 19 of his 29 points in the second half to spark the Sooners to an 88-76 win after the Sooners trailed at halftime.
Kruger said he was confident in Hield's health moving forward.
“When they put that screw in there, supposedly it's pretty stable,” Kruger said. “Buddy's little setback in August makes you a little concerned, but it wasn't in that exact area I guess. … But the doc said he felt good about the recovery-repair part of it.”