SALT LAKE CITY — Buddy Hield darted out of the visitors' locker room at Vivint Arena on Friday night.
It wasn’t because the Sacramento Kings suffered a 119-98 loss to the Utah Jazz, though. The former Oklahoma star had to catch up with a close friend.
Waiting for Hield in the family section was his college roommate Isaiah Cousins of the Salt Lake City Stars. They caught up for so long after the game that Kings personnel had to warn Hield that the team bus was leaving soon.
“It’s cool that we’re playing and we’re still healthy, and I’m proud of the success he’s having with the Kings and my success with the Stars,” Cousins said. “We’re still grinding and pushing so that’s the best part of it, and to see his development as a player.”
Hield put up 17 points against the Jazz and is averaging a career-best 20.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists in his fourth season. The Kings actually selected Cousins with the 59th pick of the 2016 NBA Draft after earning All-Big 12 third team honors at Oklahoma as a senior before he found his way to the Jazz’s G League affiliate this year.
Cousins also averaged 14.9 points, 5.9 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.13 steals in 30.7 minutes for a Stars team that appeared in the postseason for the first time in the Salt Lake City era. He led the team and finished 12th in the NBA G League in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.67) this season and will remain in Utah this offseason to continue to work on his game and push for an NBA deal.
Hield has confidence in his former backcourt mate, who was in training camp with the Jazz this preseason.
“He’s a guy that works hard,” Hield told the Deseret News. “Things may not be going the way he wants it to go but I think he has a place in this league.
“You look at guys and I feel like he should be one of the guys who should get an opportunity,” he continued. “He’s good enough to play in this league and we were talking about it just now, about him trying to get an opportunity to play, so I tell him to just keep on grinding and even with me being drafted, I had to keep working and get over the hump, so it’s tough.”
Hield said he will likely work out with Cousins this summer before he gets ready to play in the Las Vegas Summer League. They helped lead Oklahoma to the Final Four in 2016, and periodically Hield would check on Cousins’ stats with the Stars to see how things were going as the team improved by 11 wins in 2018-19 compared to last season. Their bond is much deeper than just basketball, though, as they grew close throughout those college years.
“He need to find my scooter,” Hield declared, while laughing. “Ask him where’s my scooter. He got it stolen, bro, or he sold it. Tell him I want my scooter back.”Comment on this story
Cousins also laughed while describing the scooter they would ride to class together around campus. Their love for dancehall reggae music also bonded them immediately, with Cousins’ stepfather having Jamaican roots and Hield being from the Bahamas.
After catching up via FaceTime and text messaging throughout the year, the postgame chat was much-needed between the college buddies as both guys are working to get better.
“The NBA is still a goal but if it ain’t there, I will still keep pushing,” Cousins said. “If I have to go overseas, then I will go overseas, as long as I’m able to play basketball and do what I love.”