The two stars took pictures together. Buddy Hield soaked in Kobe Bryant’s advice. The Oklahoma senior put on a show that made Bryant nod his head in approval.
Hield strung together 37 points in a win over Oregon on Saturday in Anaheim in the West Region Final. Hield frequently looked back at Bryant after every made basket. That left Bryant predicting big things about Hield well after the Sooners’ Final Four matchup against Villanova on Saturday in Houston.
“Same way he’s playing in college is the same way I anticipate him playing in the league,” Bryant said following the Lakers’ 101-88 loss to the Washington Wizards on Sunday at Staples Center. “I don’t think it’s overly complicated. People tend to overthink players a lot. People try to nitpick. It’s easy. The guy can play, he can play. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. He’ll be just fine.”
That might be because Hield showed off some of Bryant’s mannerisms. Bryant called Hield a “great player” before complimenting his footwork and mid-range game. Bryant also sounded amused that Hield jokingly blamed his scoring outburst on Bryant’s influence.
“Heck of a performance, man,” said Bryant, who attended the regional games in Anaheim, which is close to his Newport Beach residence. “That’s the kind of fault you want. He looked phenomenal.”
Mock drafts project Hield as a top-10 pick in this summer’s draft. But the Lakers will only have a pick if they land in the top three, leaving Bryant with a pretty obvious albeit bold conclusion on what the franchise should look for should they retain its coveted selection.
“A franchise player,” Bryant said. “Those aren’t easy to find. But this is the Lakers organization and this is what we expect here.”