By RENALDO DORSETT
WE are just under two months away from tipoff in the National Basketball Association season and Buddy Hield appears to be adjusting well to his new surroundings in New Orleans.
Hield addressed scores of Pelicans fans at the team’s practice facility, during the work where the team hosted early pre-camp workouts.
The rookie discussed life in New Orleans in a question-and-answer session with the fans this week, according to Pelicans.com writer Jim Eichenhofer.
“My experience has been great so far,” Hield said. “Everyone in New Orleans has been welcoming me as family. Everywhere I go, they always say, ‘put on for the city, baaay-bee. So l love the fans already. It’s been a warm welcome.”
His transition will be aided not just by comfortable surroundings, but by the presence of his mother with him in New Orleans.
Jackie Swann garnered national attention in the US when the media focused on her relationship with Hield and her presence in Oklahoma supporting the former Sooners guard towards the end of the season.
“She’s always going to be with me,” Hield said. “She’s my spiritual inspiration. She’s the reason why I’m here today. She’s my role model, so I always keep my head on straight. She’s always there for me. I need her in New Orleans.”
Hield has already exhibited his now famous ethic that led him to become the most decorated player in the NCAA last season, re-write the Sooners’ record books and be taken No.6 overall by the Pelicans in last June’s draft.
“One thing about Buddy is he puts in the work. He comes in here in the morning and works out, then comes back at night,” Pelicans GM Dell Demps said. “We have a speaker system set up in this gym, and every night he’s been in town, I hear the Caribbean music at 5 o’clock, blasting.
“So I try to get all my phone calls in before 5,” Demps joked. “He’s a hard worker. He wasn’t a guy coming out of high school who was a top recruit. He made himself into the College Player of the Year.”
On draft night, Hield immediately foreshadowed his anticipation of life in New Orleans. He said he was now ready to embrace the culture of a new home.
“I know they have great food, I know it’s not too far from the Bahamas. I know they have beaches, not like the Bahamas, but there are beaches there so that’s always good. Like I said it’s not too far from home so I love it. They have a rich culture like we do with Mardi Gras and everything, we have Junkanoo so it’s a great fit,” Hield said. “New Orleans is getting a guy who is known for his basketball but at the same time who is going to help the community. I’ll do whatever it takes to win and I hate losing so they’re getting a hard worker, someone who will do everything they can for this organisation.”
The last time Hield played in Louisiana, it was as a member of the Sooners when they defeated LSU 77-75 in Baton Rouge. Hield had 32 points and made 7-8 three pointers in the contest.
In July, Hield competed play in the Samsung NBA Summer League in Las, Vegas Nevada.
He averaged 16.8 points, 5.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds through five games but struggled shooting at just 34 per cent from the field and 24 per cent from three-point range.
NBA training camps for all teams open later this month.