University of Oklahoma basketball’s Buddy Hield was selected as the 2015-16 Big 12 Male Sportsperson of the Year, the Conference announced Thursday. Hield recently completed his four-year career with the Sooners and graduated with a degree in human relations in May. Tayler Soucie of Kansas was recognized as the Big 12 Female Sportsperson of the Year.
The Sportsperson of the Year Awards began in 2000-01 to annually recognize student-athletes who displayed an extraordinary degree of sportsmanship, community service and academic achievement. This year’s winners were selected by a media panel.
Hield bypassed early entry into the NBA draft after his junior season to return to Oklahoma to obtain his degree, improve his game, and in the process led the Sooners to the Final Four. His on-the-court accomplishments and national awards have been well documented but it was his off-the-court sportsmanship that earned him respect across the country.
While accepting individual awards, Hield included his teammates during the presentation when they were present or in his acceptance speech when they were not. He was also known for returning to the court to sign autographs following postgame media obligations, both at home and on the road, regardless of the outcome of the game. Following a three-overtime loss at Kansas in which Hield contributed 46 points, he made his way back to the hardwood to sign autographs, take photos and interact with Jayhawk fans.
After OU’s quarterfinal win over Iowa State at the 2016 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship, Hield shared the postgame ESPN interview with the Cyclones’ Georges Niang. He was also recognized in a blog by ESPN reporter Holly Rowe as one of the first people to reach out to her after a cancer diagnosis.
The Freeport, Bahamas native is an active volunteer around the Norman and OU community. He is a frequent visitor to area elementary schools to read in classrooms and takes part in math and computer labs with the students. He became the first player in the then 20-year history of the Big 12 to be named player of the year, lead the league in scoring and be named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team when he did so during the 2014-15 season.
Hield earned second-team academic honors from the league in 2016 while graduating with a degree in human relations. A finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, Hield has been named as a Sooner Scholar six times and has been on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll four times.