Villanova University’s incredible defense which led them to their second NCAA Basketball national title defeating North Carolina in an epic championship game, will be remembered for years to come. But the 2015-2016 NCAA Basketball season will be mostly remembered as the season of Buddy.
University of Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield went from learning to shoot on homemade hoops made of old board and drinks cart in his native island of The Bahamas, to being crowned with the John R. Wooden Award for the most outstanding college basketball player as well as the Jerry West Award as the nation’s best shooting guard.
To say Buddy is the Steph Curry of NCAA basketball might sound outlandish.
However, Hield’s numbers validates the claim.
The 22 year old finished the season with averages of 25 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game while ahooting 50.1 percent from the field (46 percent from 3 point range) and 89 percent of his free throws.
Better than Curry
When you think of college basketball’s most dominant three-point-shooting, volume-scoring guards, a few names come to mind: BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, Duke’s J.J. Redick and of course Curry of Davidson.
However, Buddy Hield’s senior season has been better than the best season by all of those players in several facets including True Shooting Percentage (TS).
For those wondering what the term True Shooting Percentage means –
it is a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws. It more accurately calculate a player’s shooting than field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and three-point field goal percentage taken individually.
Two- and three-point field goals and free throws are all considered in its calculation.
Curry, who later developed into the greatest shooter in NBA history, hit 162 threes shooting 43.9% and a true shooting percentage of 64% during his sophomore season (NCAA Tournament included) with Davidson in 2008.
Hield hit 147 threes (20 in NCAA Tournament) this season which easily led college basketball.
He hit 46.40% from behind the arc and a true shooting percentage of 66.40%
Like Curry did in his epic season, there have been players who have hit more threes than Hield did this season. But no other player has ever led the country in threes while being as efficient as Hield.
What made Hield’s season so epic is his otherworldly scoring efficiency.
He was legendarily efficient despite shooting alot – he was third in field goal attempts (601) and second in three point field goal attempts (322).
It could have been even better
It’s scary to think that his numbers could have been even better.
His final tally reads: 25.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, 55% from 2, 46% from 3 and 88% from the free throw line.But past the mid-season mark the Big 12 Player of The Year was on pace to shoot 50 percent from inside the arc, 50 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line.
He would have been the first major-conference player to do so since the 2004-2005 season.
Also his Tournament and overall numbers suffered from that 4 for 12 (1 for 8 from 3) 9 point game he had in the 44 point Final Four hammering at the hands of eventual champions Villanova.
Prior to his worst game of the season, Hield went mad in the midst of ‘March Madness’ – he was averaging 29.3 points shooting 56.7% from the floor 47.5% from behind the arc while carrying the Sooners on his back through four tournament games. He scored 27, 36, 17 and 37 points in those games .
Those numbers are more efficient than the little-known, babyfaced guard who grabbed the NCAA tournament spotlight for No. 10 seed Davidson in 2008.
With scoring games of 40, 30, 33 and 25, Curry led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight averaging 32 ppg and shooting 46.7% from the field and 44.6% from 3.
It’s hard to believe that Hield never shot better than 38% from three before his senior season, which makes this breakout season’s exploits so awe inspiring.
But what a time to have a break-out season – his final season, which should catapult him to a top 10 pick in this summer’s NBA Draft.
Sources: NCAA.org, SBNation.com