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February 21, 2014

Hield rarely takes off his work hat

NORMAN — At some point, reality will set in for Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield. He’ll fully understand that everyone doesn’t get to work at what they truly love doing.

The vast majority of people take vacations to get away from their jobs. They don’t fret because they’ve missed a day of it.

“It is work. It’s my job,” Hield said when asked about the game he plays and greatly desires to be his profession.

The difference is he devotes himself to “work” with a passion others reserve for hobbies.

All Sooner players have 24-hour access to the Bruce Drake practice court at Lloyd Noble Center. They are free to come by at any time and put up some shots 365 days a year.

Hield has only been at OU for a little over two years, but there’s hardly a time of day a coach or a teammate hasn’t spotted him in that practice gym.

“Every time I come in here, he’s already here shooting. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is. I’ve been in here at 10 o’clock at night and he was here,” OU forward Ryan Spangler said as he saw Hield walk by after Tuesday’s practice. “I guess he doesn’t have anything better to do.”

Luckily for the Sooners, Hield’s compulsion hasn’t been swayed. He enters Saturday’s game against Kansas State averaging a team-best 16.7 points a game and 17.5 against Big 12 opponents.

In a league stocked with talented players, Hield might be the most improved since last season.

Think back to last Saturday’s 77-74 victory over Oklahoma State. It was Hield who buried two critical 3-pointers — one to tie the game and another to take the lead for good — that lifted the Sooners to 19-7 overall and into a three-way tie for third place in the league at 8-5 with five games to go.

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