Provo • As the team warmed up before the preseason exhibition game, fans were quick to notice a change in senior Zac Seljaas, who wasn’t playing and instead was dressed in gray sweatpants and sweatshirt. Better yet, they noticed a new look — one that included blond highlights and a mustache.
By the season opener against Cal State Fullerton, the Nicolas Cage comparisons — and memes — shared online reached a new high. The fact that Seljaas had managed to come back from a broken foot, and subsequent surgery, in less than three months was almost brushed under the mat as the BYU player’s drastic change continued to dominate conversations.
But Seljaas isn't on social media, so he misses out on most of what people have shared.
For those wondering if Seljaas is just participating in No-Shave November — when men grow out their facial hair to raise awareness and money to fight cancer — fret not. The senior is keeping this look for the year and will continue to grow out the mustache — within the bounds of the school’s Honor Code, of course — even after November is over.
“My wife’s kind of mad about that — she thought it was about No-Shave November,” Seljaas said. “It’s just kind of a new thing. Every year I kind of had a new haircut, a new look. For senior season, just had to do something special. And this is what it is.”
And along with the new hair and mustache, Seljaas’ senior season is made even more special by what he went through a few months ago.
During the second game of the team’s Italy trip, someone landed on his foot and broke it. It was the first in a series of injuries the Cougars went through in the offseason.
The next morning, Seljaas had breakfast with coach Mark Pope to discuss his options. They figured out that if Seljaas left Italy right then, rather than stay for the remainder of the trip, he could be back the day before the season started.
Seljaas took the early flight home, had surgery and came back before then.
And he picked up right where he left off.
So far, through three games, Seljaas is averaging 6 points, one assist, 4.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals.
Pope said he wasn't sure what to expect from Seljaas as he came back from his foot injury, but he knows the guard has played hard for the Cougars.
“You can see how hard he wants to play and how much he wants to win and how agenda-free his game is,” Pope said. “Obviously, he was so good for us this summer, through our first two games in Italy — he was maybe our best player. It’s going to take him some time to find that back, but he’s a beautiful young man and he’s a pleasure to coach.”
Having to go through the unexpected injury, Seljaas said, has made him realize how important this time is to play.
Missing summer workouts for a few weeks made him feel like he was missing so much. He couldn’t wait to get back out there, not just for him, but for the team. Part of him, he said, felt like he was letting down the team.
It just motivated him to work harder, to get back.
“If anyone gets injured again, the only advice I have is to make sure that you’re ready that when you do get back, you don’t waste any time,” Seljaas said. “That’s what it’s taught me — to not waste time, just be prepared and enjoy it. Enjoy every second.”
BYU AT HOUSTON
At Fertitta Center, Houston.
Tipoff » Friday, 7 p.m. MT.
TV » ESPNU
Radio » BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM HD2; KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.
Records » BYU 2-1; UH 1-0.
All-time series » Houston leads 5-2.
Last meeting » Houston 62, BYU 76 (Nov. 24, 2018).
About BYU » The Cougars had three players score double figures and shot 36% from beyond the arc to hold off Southern Utah, 68-63, on Wednesday. … Jake Toolson leads the team with 15.7 points per game. … BYU had two players get into foul trouble — TJ Haws and Dalton Nixon — against SUU. … This will be the Cougars’ first road game of the season.
About UH » Houston opened the season with a dominating win over Alabama State, 64-56. … The Cougars had five players reach double figures. … Sophomore guard Quentin Grimes dropped 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and 1 block in his first game. … Houston started the season with a win for the 11th consecutive year and 55th time in school history.