It took exactly 23 days, but it might end up being well worth the wait. That was how long Oklahoma Sooners freshman Buddy Hield was out of action. Hield, one of the nation’s top recruits last season, got in a game for the first time against the West Virginia Mountaineers after fracturing a bone on his right foot last month.
Hield was actually supposed to be out a longer period of time. Four to six weeks was the original diagnosis, but through hard work and some luck it only took the freshman 23 days. However, the time to celebrate his early return is already over, as it is time to focus on improving–quickly.
The Sooners find themselves on the bubble with one game left against a bad TCU Horned Frogs team. While finishing up their regular season with an easy victory is awesome, it won’t be enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament. Oklahoma will likely need to rattle off a couple of wins in their conference tournament to have a realistic shot to make the dance. For them to be able to do so, Hield will need to play a more vital role in the team’s success.
Only scoring 8 points per game, Hield needs to be a more aggressive player — primarily driving to the hoop more. While his field goal percentage is average, he makes free throws with much more frequency. Being young and still learning are fine, but Hield needs to play to his strengths to help Oklahoma achieve its goals.
This isn’t even a short-term issues either. Many thought of Hield as the Sooners’ building block of the future. No matter what success they may or may not have this season, Hield needs to become a more prolific scorer for the Sooners at some point.
Considering they are playing for a pair of dancing slippers — for Hield, there is not time like now to become that efficient bucket-maker.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Joe on Twitter @JosephNardone