Pelicans pick Hield at No. 6; Sacramento selects Cousins

Oklahoma sharpshooter Buddy Hield was the sixth pick overall taken in the NBA draft by the New Orleans Pelicans.

Fellow Sooner Isaiah Cousins was the 59th pick, selected by the Sacramento Kings.

New Orleans needs a shooting guard and Hield should fit in nicely.

“Shooting the ball, impacting the game, spreading the floor, keeping defenses honest,” Hield said of his role for the Pelicans. “I’m a worker. I’m a high-energy guy. I’m a leader. I know that there’s other leaders on the team, but I can go out there and help them lead too. I’ll let them know I’m not shy because I’m a rookie coming in. I’m not shy to take over. I’ve always been in that role my whole life. But I’m willing to learn and listen and learn from coach (Alvin) Gentry. It’s going to be a fun situation for me and I can’t wait.”

LSU’s Ben Simmons as expected was the No. 1 pick (to the 76ers) and Brandon Ingram (Lakers) was No. 2. Jaylen Brown was No. 3 (Celtics), Dragan Bender was No. 4 (Suns), Kris Dunn  was No. 5 (Timberwolves) and Hield came in at No. 6.

“Buddy and Isaiah getting drafted is a testament to hard work,” OU head coach Lon Kruger said. “Those guys spent so much time in the gym. They pushed each other and challenged each other in a healthy way. It shows that if you have a good package of abilities to start with and then combine it with a relentless work ethic, good things happen.”

Hield becomes OU’s ninth first-round pick and sixth lottery selection in program history. Oklahoma’s first drafted player since 2013 (Romero Osby), Hield is the highest guard taken in OU history and the sixth-highest Sooner chosen overall.

As the sixth overall pick, Hield is the highest drafted senior since Duke’s Shelden Williams was selected fifth by the Atlanta Hawks in 2006.

“Very happy for Buddy, a guy that has worked so hard to keep making progress with his game,” Kruger said. “He’s meant so much to the OU program, and now to see him take that next step to the NBA – all Sooners are elated and extremely proud of him. Buddy will no doubt keep improving, just as he has the past four years. He has the ability to focus on areas that need improvement and then the sincerity to work on them every day.”

In leading the Sooners to their fifth Final Four appearance in school history and first since 2002, Hield concluded the 2015-16 season as the only player in the country to average at least 25.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest. In total, he notched 12 30-point games and 19 25-point games on the year (led the country in both categories).

In 37 total contests last season, Hield averaged 25.0 points (first among Power 5 players), 5.7 rebounds (led all Big 12 guards), 2.0 assists and 1.1 steals in 35.4 minutes. He shot .501 (301-601) from the field, .457 (147-322) from beyond the 3-point arc (led Big 12) and .880 (176-200) from the charity stripe. Both his 147 made 3-pointers and 4.0 treys-per-game average led the nation.

During his senior campaign, Hield tallied 925 points, the most in Big 12 single-season history. The Bahamas native finished his four-year collegiate career (132 total games) as the Big 12’s all-time leading scorer and ranked second all-time in OU program history with 2,291 points.

Hield won the Oscar Robertson Trophy, Naismith Trophy and Wooden Award as the 2016 national player of the year and became OU’s first consensus All-American since Blake Griffin in 2009. He became just the second two-time Big 12 Player of the Year (Raef LaFrentz) and was a two-time All-Big 12 first team member and Academic All-Big 12 honoree. He graduated in May with a degree in human relations.

During his senior campaign with the Sooners, Cousins averaged a career-high 12.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and a team-leading 4.5 assists per contest. He shot .406 (169-416) from the field and .411 (65-158) from long distance (fifth in the Big 12) in 33.4 minutes per game. At the conclusion of the regular season, the Mount Vernon, N.Y, native was named to the All-Big 12 Third Team.

Cousins appeared in 137 total contests in four seasons at Oklahoma. He finished his career ranked fifth in program history in 3-point field goal percentage (.407), seventh in career minutes played (3,794), eighth in 3-pointers made (176) and ninth in career steals (157). His 1,326 points scored in his career ranks 20th all-time at OU. Cousins graduated in May with a degree in human relations.

“We are extremely excited for Isaiah to get drafted into the NBA,” Kruger said. “It’s a terrific honor. Isaiah has worked very hard to improve his game. He’s meant so much to the Sooner program and we are so happy to see him receive the opportunity to showcase his game at the next level. He’s always been such a hard worker. In high school, we would have to meet him at the gym at 6 a.m., and he has never changed that routine. He’ll be among the hardest workers on his team.”

Big 12 Players in the NBA Draft

Round 1

No. 6   – Buddy Hield of Oklahoma by New Orleans

No. 12 – Taurean Prince of Baylor by Utah Jazz

(Traded to the Atlanta Hawks)

Round 2

No. 33 – Cheick Diallo of Kansas by the Los Angeles Clippers

No. 50 – Georges Niang of Iowa State by Indiana

No. 58 – Abdel Nader of Iowa State by Boston

No. 59 – Isaiah Cousins of Oklahoma by Sacramento