By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
Buddy Hield vowed that the broken bone in his right foot would keep him out less than four weeks. He took a major step toward fulfilling his pledge Monday.
The freshman guard returned to practice exactly three weeks after suffering the injury Feb. 11 against TCU.
“I’m really healed. It’s a little sore, but it’s nothing; it’s not bothering me,” Hield said following the workout.
In truth, the soreness is going to be a big deal.
OU coach Lon Kruger will not rush the freshman, who was averaging 8.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game prior to the injury, back onto the floor. Hield is fully cleared to practice by OU’s medical staff, but how much soreness he’s feeling in the right foot today will have an impact on when he returns.
“If he comes back tomorrow and there’s soreness then the chance goes way down,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “If he comes back feeling normal and (team physician Dr. Brock Schnebel and athletic trainer Alex Brown) feel good about it, it improves his chances.”
The Sooners (19-9, 10-6 Big 12) face West Virginia (13-16, 6-10) at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the season’s final game at Lloyd Noble Center. Hield wants to play in the game. He’s missed the last five due to the injury.
Still, he’s thinking about the long term (Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments) more than the short term.
“Hopefully, coach Kruger will let me play because it’s the last home game on Wednesday,” Hield said. “If not, I know I need to take my time and be patient and not rush it. It’s hard to be patient when you get in practice because you always want to do more. You never know what will happen. I just want to be steady and be able to help my team in any way.”
Ultimately, the decision won’t be made by Hield or even Kruger.
“Buddy won’t play unless the doctors say he’s full to go; It’s not a matter of risking anything,” the Sooners’ coach said. “If he plays, it means the doctors said he’s 100 percent. We’re not going to play him at 80; we’re not going to play him at 90.”