Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Buddy Hield Named CBS Sports National Player of the Year

Buddy Hield is the CBS Sports National Player of the Year.

He earned the honor by consistently performing at a high level for a high-level team, by averaging 25.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He led the Sooners to a No. 1 ranking in the AP poll, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and a trip to the Final Four.

He's scored 30-plus points 12 times this season -- most recently in Saturday's 80-68 upset of Oregon that lifted the Sooners into this Saturday's national semifinal against Villanova.

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He's shooting a career-high 50.4 percent from the field, a career-high 46.5 percent from 3-point range and a career-high 88.0 percent from the free-throw line.

"Buddy just makes shots," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said after Hield sank eight 3-pointers and finished with 37 points in that Elite Eight win over Oregon. "He's just unbelievable. He shoots with great confidence and doesn't force many."

The other obvious candidates for this award were Michigan State's Denzel Valentine, Virginia's Malcolm Brogdon and Kentucky's Tyler Ulis. And it's simple to make a reasonable case for any of them -- especially Valentine, who is the first player in Division I men's college basketball history to average at least 17.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists.

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But Hield's incredible individual numbers combined with his memorable performances and with the way he's lifted his school to its first Final Four since 2002 gave him the edge. He wasn't a unanimous pick by CBS Sports' panel of voters. But he was the overwhelming winner.

And he still has at least one more game to play. Maybe two.

He might spend Monday night cutting nets after leading Oklahoma to its first national championship or he could leave college basketball forever Saturday night. As always, we'll see.

But win or lose, flourish or fail, Buddy Hield will go down as the star of this season. And, we think, he should have the proper hardware to remind everybody of that forever. (CBS Sports)

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