BYU's Kaufusi talks about his tenuous two-sport future
Not sure exactly why now, but BYU basketball coach Dave Rose said it was OK for reporters to talk to Bronson Kaufusi after practice Thursday night at the Marriott Center as the Cougars continued preparations to play host to Portland on Saturday (7 p.m., BYUtv). Before now, BK has been off-limits. Maybe because it was Valentine's Day and Rose wanted to pass along a little love to the media. He did pass along some heart-shaped sugar cookies with beautiful pink frosting. Seriously. Rose's wife, Cheryl , brought homemade cookies for the players after practice, and a dozen or so were left over. Before he started his interview, Rose joked with reporters that the ones who asked him only one question would get a cookie. When the interview was over, Rose said it was OK for everyone to take a cookie, even if a few of us broke the one-question rule. Mine was really, really good.
Apparently, the color red is banned on campus, even on Vallentine's Day. Even the balloons tied to the railings before the BYU women's game against Santa Clara on Thursday night were pink.
Anyway, back to Kaufusi. I asked him if he was as excited to talk to us and we were to talk to him. "Oh, of course, of course," he said. The 6-foot-7, 260-pounder (he looks a bit heavier than that) said in the back of his mind he has wanted to play both sports in college since his days at Timpview High doing both and excelling at both. "But I never thought it would happen, and then when I found out sometime during the football season that there might be an opportunity, I was a little excited," he said. Rose said that Kaufusi first approached Provo High product Brandon Davies, his good friend, and asked Davies to see if Rose might be interested. "Well, I was surprised, because he had such a good freshman season as a football player," Rose said. "I talked to him a lot earlier, during the recruiting process, about what he really wanted to do, whether he wanted to play collegiate football or play collegiate basketball, and he made his decision....And so Brandon says [last fall], 'coach, Bronson wants to talk to you, he's thinking about playing. I am thinking most of that came right about the timeframe that the news about Stephen Rogers [injury] came about." Oddly, Kaufusi doesn't know whether football coach Bronco Mendenhall will allow him to play basketball next season, let alone keep playing when spring drills begin on March 4. That's the Monday before the WCC tournament begins in Las Vegas. "I am not exactly sure [what the deadline is to get back to practicing with the football team]," Kaufusi said. "I haven't talked to [Mendenhall], but I am part of the [basketball] team. I am here to help them, as far as they want me to." As previously reported, Mendenhall said at his signing day press conference last week that he doesn't believe Kaufusi playing basketball is a "longterm" situation, and that he doesn't want it to start a precedent. "Well, I think it will be a good thing to go over with the coaches, and see what they think is best," Kaufusi said when told he might have a decision to make on March 4. "But I am here to help the team."A few more comments from Kaufusi: On what has surprised him about Division I basketball:"I think it would be the speed of the game. It is different. But for me, it is that and also understanding the game even at a higher level." On how he believes he's done: "I just seek to improve everyday. As long as I am improving and finding ways to help our team, I feel like I am contributing."On how much football mentality he brings to the basketball floor:"Well, I don't have a helmet on, so I can't do that. I think just knowing I can be physical and knowing I can use the physicality on the basketball court. I think that really helps out underneath."On not going easy on the guys in practice: "No, they don't like it when I go easy, because they know how physical I can be, and they know how I do that, because they've seen me in games."On whether any other guys could play football:"It would be pretty fun to see Brandon [Davies] in some football pads, but who knows?" On which sport he loves more: "I love them both. There are a lot of lessons that can be learned from both of them. They both complement each other, and that's why I love both of them. I just feel lucky to be able to play them both at this level."On whether he realize how special he is playing both at D-I level:"I just love the game, so that's how I see it. I just go out and play and do my best, and try to help out the team. So that's what I try to do."On whether he sees himself as the enforcer: "I think there are opportunities to be physical. I think with me, and the way that we play, there are opportunities to help a lot. So if I am asked to set a screen, I am going to set a hard screen. With everythign I do, I try to do it hard, to help us out." On not doing a sack dance when he got the three-point play vs. USF:"Brandon would have made fun of me, so, no."On his conversations with Bronco: "I just went in there and got his thoughts. ... He was very supportive of me, and gave me the choice, which was good."