Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield returning for senior season

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Already expected to be a good team in 2015-16, Oklahoma’s prospects for next season improved a great deal Friday morning as Buddy Hield announced that he will be back for his senior season. Last year’s Big 12 Player of the Year, Hield averaged 17.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in helping lead Lon Kruger’s program to 24 wins and its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2009.

With Hield returning the Sooners return four of the five players who started all 35 games this past season, with forward  TaShawn Thomas being the lone departure. And the combination of experience and talent should once again have Oklahoma in the mix for the Big 12 title alongside reigning regular season champion Kansas and two-time tournament champion Iowa State.

“I’m on a great team and we have a lot of unfinished business,” Hield said Friday. “I just can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year. I want to go to the Final Four. That’s always been a dream for me. Playing with these guys, for my coaches and for my university is a lot of fun.

“I’ve been with Isaiah (Cousins) and Ryan (Spangler) for three years and Jordan (Woodard) for two. We’ve got some young pieces. This is a fun group and bonding with them has been a big part of my life. Getting my degree is also really, really important to me.”

Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard will once again lead the way on the perimeter, with Ryan Spangler being the team’s best option in the front court. Players such as Khadeem Lattin, Jamuni McNease and junior college transfer Akolda Manyang will need to step up alongside Spangler in order to account for the loss of Thomas, but overall Oklahoma has the pieces needed to meet and possibly exceed their accomplishments of 2014-15.

DraftExpress projected Hield as a second round pick in this year’s draft.