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Published: Thursday, 3/1/2007

All-Blade: Libbey's Buford has it all scouted out

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Buford Buford
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Beyond his obvious physical talents on a basketball court, the character traits possessed by Libbey junior William Buford would also serve him well as a Boy Scout.

Among its list of 11 laws, the scouting organization asks its members to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, obedient, thrifty, brave and reverent.

These terms are not foreign to the 6-foot-5 guard-forward who has verbally committed to Ohio State. It is this combination of social attributes and superior athletic ability that makes Buford one of the state s best players and a repeat selection as boys player of the year on the 2007 All-Blade basketball team.

Buford talks about trust when explaining how he and his Cowboy teammates have posted a 19-1 record, earned a No. 3 state ranking in Division I, and captured the program s first City League playoff championship since the 1999-2000 season.

I trust my teammates, Buford said. We re like a family. We re always together, like brothers. We play good together because we all play our roles.

We ve got people who can score, shoot, play defense, rebound, hustle and everything. We play our roles. That s why we win a lot of games.

There is a specific virtue that 14th-year Libbey coach Leroy Bates chooses to point out when discussing Buford s most valuable contribution.

The greatest attribute William has shown is loyalty to our program, said Bates, who saw four of the top six players transfer away from his team following the 2004-05 season. When almost everybody else left, he said, I m staying, no matter what. When everybody else was jumping ship, he stayed on the ship.

Buford has been helpful to his teammates in other ways.

To me, he kind of has a point-guard mentality, Bates said. He gets joy from seeing his teammates be successful on the court, and he knows that s what fuels the team to victory.

I know that one person can t win by himself, Buford said. You ve got to get the team involved. That s how I play. I ve never been the type to try to do everything myself.

Libbey played what was arguably the most challenging schedule in Ohio in 2005-06, and Buford spent last summer on an AAU team with nationally acclaimed prep stars O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker, formerly of two-time Division III state champion Cincinnati North College Hill.

At the end of last season I challenged him to get better and not settle or be content with what he did last year, Bates said. The challenge is to always compete against yourself, to work harder, and not be satisfied with past achievements.

I challenged him to improve as a player and make our team better, and he did that.

Score one for obedience.

The term thrifty is usually linked to folks trying to get the most out of a limited money supply. For Buford, thrifty describes the way he gets so much offensive production while avoiding the label of ball hog or gunner.

He averages 28.4 points per game on a relatively frugal 18 field goal and six free throw attempts per contest. He is shooting 66 percent on two-point tries, 43 percent on 3-pointers, and 74 percent from the line.

It would be easy for a supremely talented high school athlete like William Buford to regress from confident and ambitious to conceited and complacent were he not well grounded by a father and mother he reveres.

I love my parents very much, Buford said of William and Arnetta. They make sure I keep a level head and make sure I do good in school. They don t let my head get swelled up too big. They keep me where I need to be.



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