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BYU basketball notebook: Kaufusi has a decision to make in early March

Published: Thursday, Feb. 14 2013 6:50 p.m. MST

BYU's Bronson Kaufusi goes hard to the basket as BYU and San Francisco play Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 in the Marriott Center.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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Deseret News

PROVO — While the BYU basketball season is winding down, spring football starts up in just a few weeks.

That provides an intriguing dilemma for freshman Bronson Kaufusi, who starred on the defensive line last fall and has provided a physical presence for the basketball team this season.

Kaufusi, who scored a career-high five points in last Saturday's loss to San Francisco, faces a decision. Spring ball begins March 4, just a couple of days before the West Coast Conference tournament tips off in Las Vegas.

Which uniform will Kaufusi be wearing that week?

"I'll have to find out. Who knows? I haven't really talked about that with anyone," Kaufusi said Thursday. "I think it will be a good thing to go over with the coaches and see whatever they think is best. I'm here to help the team."

At about the time that the news hit last fall that the careers of Chris Collinsworth and Stephen Rogers were over, Kaufusi approached his good friend, senior forward Brandon Davies, and expressed an interest in playing basketball. Davies then talked to coach Dave Rose.

"I was surprised because he had such a good freshman season as a football player," said Rose. "I talked to him a lot earlier during the recruiting process about what he wanted to do (football or basketball). He made his decision, but I really hadn't talked to him since then."

Kaufusi said playing hoops won't interfere with his budding football career.

"I don't think it will hurt me in any way. … A lot of physical parts of basketball, you can translate onto the football field in the same way. … I love them both. There are lessons that can be learned in both of them that you can use in the other. They both complement each other, and that's what I love about them. I feel lucky to be able to have the opportunity to play both at this level."

So what was the conversation like with BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall about playing basketball?

"I just told him about the opportunity that I had and I got his thoughts and ideas about how he felt about it," Kaufusi said. "I felt like it was something I could do, and he was supportive of me. He gave me the choice."

APOLOGY ACCEPTED: BYU hosts Portland Saturday (7 p.m. MST, BYUtv). The last time the two teams met, in Portland on Jan. 26, the game featured an incident that saw Pilot guard Tanner Riley take down BYU's Brock Zylstra with a wrestling move.

Officials ejected Riley from the game.

"Everybody plays tough. Some players lost their head and let it get away from them," Zylstra said Thursday. "Everything's in the past. We don't have any hard feelings. But we know it's going to be a physical game again."

Since that scuffle, Riley reached out to Zylstra, apologizing for his behavior.

"He actually wrote me a letter a couple of days ago, apologizing and saying that he feels sorry for what he did," Zylstra said. "I appreciate that. When I see him (Saturday), I'll tell him I have no hard feelings either and that it was no big deal."

LASTING IMPACT: At halftime Saturday, BYU will retire the jerseys of Cougar legends Mel Hutchins and Roland Minson.

Rose paid tribute to the contributions of Hutchins and Minson to the program.

"I've just read about their history," Rose said. "Obviously, they are very deserving. Those are guys who are part of what attracts recruits to BYU now — the tradition of what we have here and what's gone on for close to 110 years. Every time I get a chance, I like to thank those guys for what they've done, because it's really helped us."

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