By Michael Kinney
Oklahoma fans it was a forgone conclusion. In fact, throughout the NCAA tournament, anytime Buddy Hield’s name was mentioned, it seemed to always be accompanied with future the Player of the Year winner.’
So when it was announced Thursday afternoon that Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine had edged out Hield for the AP Player of the Year, it caught the Sooner nation off-guard. Even though it was only May 31, some thought April Fools Day had started one day early.
While Valentine is an impressive player and had an outstanding season, the number’s do not exactly match up with Hield.
Valentine averaged 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Spartans and shot 44 percent from 3-point range.
Hield posted 26 points, six boards and just over two assists in his final season at Oklahoma.
For those AP voters who may have waited until the last possible moment to hand in their votes, they saw Valentine and Michigan State get upset in the first round of the NCAA tourney while Hield has seemingly only gotten better during March Madness. His worst game was a 17 point, 10 rebound effort during a blowout of Texas A&M. He is averaging 29 points, shooting 57 percent from the field and 48 percent from behind the 3-point arc in six tournament games to lead his team to the Final Four in Houston.
Despite what the numbers may say, the voters did have a tough choice in their estimation between the two unanimous selections to the AP All-America team. Valentine beat out Hield by only three votes for the award.
While Hield came up short for the AP award, he has not gone empty handed during award season. He was recently named the CBS Sports National Player of the Year Award. He, along with Valentine, are finalists for the prestigious John R. Wooden Award, which will be announced April 8.
However, more than likely, the only hardware Hield is concentrating on is the one that will be given out Monday to the national champion. If he hoist that up in the air, it should more than make up for any slights he may feel now.