A young man stands on the sidelines of the Hawthorne Hornets’ practice football field.
“Why aren’t you on the field?” he yells to one of the players standing off to the side of the action, watching his team practice.
“I was just in,” the teenage player responds. “I’m resting now.”
“Rest?” the young man asks. “You’re young. You don’t need any rest. You never saw me taking any plays off.”
The young man laughed it off, making it known he was mostly just playing with the boy, but the confidence in himself was real.
That’s who Torey Buie is. He has every right to be confident.
The 18-year-old helped lead the Hornets to their first boys basketball state championship in 33 years last March. After transferring from Bradford prior to the 2019-2020 season, Buie stepped in and instantly took over the scoring load, leading Hawthorne with 19.1 points per game.
“I always say it’s never about one player,” Hawthorne head boys basketball coach Greg Bowie said. “But we desperately needed a scorer. Torey came in and filled that role perfectly. He complemented what we already had so well.”
A True Competitor
Buie was named the MVP of the state tournament after scoring 20 of his team’s 42 points in the championship game, despite fighting through injuries.
“Nobody knew, but during the first half of the state championship, my finger got broken,” Buie said. “I didn’t even wear anything on it. I told Coach not to worry if some of my layups don’t look pretty. My mindset is if I can walk, I can run.”
Torey Buie (@ToreyBuie) doing what he does best: Taking it hard to the rack with no regard for who’s in his way.
— Mike Kennedy (@MikeKennedyNFL) March 7, 2020
That competitiveness defines Buie’s game, Bowie said. He described a game against P.K. Yonge in which Buie missed a couple of shots early.
“He was hot-headed and jawing with the crowd,” Bowie said. “So, I pulled him aside and said he’s got to either get his head in the game or go to the locker room. He instantly came right back, finished the game strong and hit the game-winning free throws. You could tell he just really wanted to beat P.K. He had a history with them. That’s just his competitive spirit.”
That fire also showed itself against North Marion, where Buie spent his freshman and sophomore seasons.
“It was a close game,” Buie said. “I went over to their coach at the start of the fourth and said, ‘I’m sorry, but No. 1 just pissed me off, so you’re going to lose.’ I knew we weren’t going to lose, but I just wanted to tell them that they had zero chance. One of them told me I hadn’t done anything the whole night. Then I scored 18 in the fourth.”
Torey Buie (@ToreyBuie) gets out on the fastbreak and gets the easy layup to put Hawthorne up 39-29 on North Marion.
— Mike Kennedy (@MikeKennedyNFL) February 6, 2020
Buie embraces his role as a trash talker.
“I do talk,” he said. “But I just back it up all the time. I can’t lie and say that I don’t talk because I definitely do. If I be quiet, I’m going to play bad.”
Fighting Through All Adversity
As he moves on to the next level, Buie said that switching high schools really helped prepare him for another change of scenery.
Buie said the only transition he has to deal with now is adjusting to the size differences. He said he has gained 15 pounds since getting to college to get to 175 pounds, but he’s not done yet.
“My goal is to get to 185, like LaMelo Ball, who just got drafted at that weight,” he said. “Getting to that basket is hard work. You got people fouling you and trying to kill you. That’s why I want to improve my jump shot too.”
Torey Buie (@ToreyBuie) makes a difficult twisting layup on the fastbreak as part of a personal 8-0 run in the fourth quarter to put Hawthorne up 51-47 on Williston. He has 23 points in the game.@ESPNGainesville @ThePrepZone @HawthorneHoops pic.twitter.com/vtvwuvLwmr
— Mike Kennedy (@MikeKennedyNFL) February 15, 2020
While he aims to be Ball’s size, that’s not the NBA player he looks up to most.
“Mentality-wise, I model myself after Damian Lillard,” he said. “Right before the game where I scored 32 points, I watched him the whole day.”
Buie said that if he had noticed any reporters at the game that day, he wouldn’t have even looked at them because he was so locked in.
“One of my teammates tapped me on the shoulder before the game, and he was like ‘Torey! Never mind. I see you’re focused,’ after he saw the look in my eyes.”
Torey Buie, a Hornet for Life
Despite moving on to college, Buie frequently returns to Hawthorne to motivate his friends and former teammates.
“I feel like some people would be satisfied with that championship,” he said. “That’s why LeBron James is the greatest player of all-time. He’s never satisfied because he’s setting a standard for the next guy. That’s why I talk to everybody that comes through here to tell them to push for more.”
Buie said that he got labeled as not a team player and as uncoachable at his previous schools, but coaches at Hawthorne dispute that claim.
“The kids here already see it every day, with CI (football coach Cornelius Ingram) being a two-time NCAA champ and a former NFL player,” Hawthorne athletic director Dustin Adkins said. “Now, Torey is the next guy in a line of greats who graduated from Hawthorne and saw success who continue to come back and give back to these kids.”
The city of Hawthorne will remember Torey Buie for a long time, and the feeling is mutual.
“He was only here for one year, and he already claims Hawthorne as his home,” Adkins said. “That’s how special it is here.”