NORMAN, Okla. -- Just prior to leaving the OU campus in late June for the Kevin Durant Skills Academy as one of the nation's top-30 wings, junior Buddy Hield said he hoped to perform well enough at the three-day event to earn an invite to this week's prestigious LeBron James Skills Academy.
Recognized as one of college basketball's top 30 players regardless of position, Hield will attend James' annual academy Wednesday through Saturday (July 9-12) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Joining the 30 collegians will be 80 of the nation's top high school players. The 110 participants will take part in competitive skills workouts and 5-on-5 games in front of NBA scouts and NCAA coaches.
Hield said Durant's skills academy, which took place June 27-29 in Washington, D.C., afforded him the chance to see how he stacks up against some of the best wings in the country.
"We did a lot of drills and played 1-on-1, 2-on-2, 3-on-3, 4-on-4 and 5-on-5, and we played pickup (games) against KD and some of his guys," said Hield, a second-team All-Big 12 honoree last year. "We played in front of scouts and used a 12-second shot clock. They wanted us to think fast and make the right play; just do what you can do and don't do what you can't do."
Hield said he expects the structure at James' academy to be slightly different.
"At LeBron's camp, you play against the best players in the country, not just the best wings. You have to go in there and compete against everyone at every position. It's going to be more free than it was at KD's camp. I know there are a few other guys from the Big 12 going and I'm looking forward to competing with them."
Fellow Big 12 players scheduled to attend are Iowa State junior Georges Niang, Kansas junior Perry Ellis and freshman Kelly Oubre, Kansas State sophomore Marcus Foster and West Virginia senior Juwan Staten.
Hield, who averaged an OU-high 16.5 points per game and made a league-high 63 3-pointers in Big 12 play as a sophomore, said he benefited greatly from the Durant skills academy, often taking the time just to observe the reigning NBA MVP's approach to the game.
"You know, we miss two or three shots in a row and we get mad at ourselves," said Hield. "If KD misses two or three, he doesn't get down on himself. He knows he's making the next one. He's just poised and relaxed and that's one reason he's the MVP.
"I just enjoyed watching him when he works out and how he takes his time and focuses on making shots. His mind is at a totally different level, trying to win an NBA championship."
What was the most fun aspect of his three days in D.C.? Without hesitation, Hield said playing 5-on-5 against Durant, "getting up and down the floor and getting buckets against his team."
"I think I stacked up pretty well," he added. "You know me; I'm never going to discredit myself. But I'm just trying to keep working hard and be the best."
He'll have the chance to take another step forward this week in Las Vegas.
As a participant in the Kevin Durant Skills Academy, Hield received several items of Nike gear, including two pairs of KD basketball shoes, shirts, five pairs of socks and some additional workout attire.
But Hield said the only item he kept was one pair of shoes.
"I gave everything else to my (OU) teammates," he said. "I feel like they're the reason I got to go to KD's camp. Me wearing all that fancy stuff wouldn't look good. My teammates should be part of that, too; like if I'm there then they're there, too."
Hield said he didn't receive enough items to make sure all of his current teammates received something.
"I had to take care of the guys from last year's team first, but hopefully I can fix up the new guys with some stuff from LeBron's camp."
Fellow junior guard Isaiah Cousins, who is Hield's roommate, was the recipient of the other pair of Durant shoes.