GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Kobe Bufkin is dependable. He isn’t used to coming off the floor.
“It was very frustrating in the beginning," says the shooting guard from Grand Rapids Christian.
This season, however, has forced Bufkin to slow down and see the game he loves from a different point of view. The Eagles senior took a hard fall against Grand Rapids Catholic Central on February 20th and suffered a fractured left wrist. The injury put him in a cast and forced him to the sidelines.
Bufkin says that hasn't been easy. “Obviously it was heartbreaking to know that I was going to be out for the majority of the rest of the season. But just being a leader to my teammates, and just getting them as far as they can go without me. I felt like I’d be able to come back sooner than later.”
The lefty scorer has been in that cast for a month. And even though he couldn’t play, he remained engaged with his teammates and started to look at the game differently. Something his coach noticed right away.
"He said I can’t be out there but my voice can be heard," said Eagles varsity head coach Eric Taylor.
Bufkin took on a coaching role with the Eagles and never thought twice about it. Taylor says it helped make the team stronger.
"The way the guys rally around him and how our team has come together, I think they really value what he has to say. I think now that they see him on the sideline, when he says it it resonates with them and we just try to go out there and execute it."
The future Michigan Wolverine says the move to the coaches box allowed him to study the game in a different way.
"You get to see what the coaches saw on the court," says Bufkin. "When you’re not playing then you see it from their eyes, you get to talk to them on the bench and see what they see. So I feel like it was a blessing in disguise for me to be able to see, not only as a player, but as one of the coaches, what’s happening on the court so I can correct myself when I get back to playing."
For Bufkin, it's always been about getting better. As for his wrist, he says his cast is set to come off on March 23rd. And if you're wondering whether or not you’ll see him in an Eagles jersey again this year...we'll he has an answer for that, too.
"There was never any hesitation, if I can come back I definitely will try my hardest to come back. I'm always looking to win. I feel like I owe it to these guys to give it my all and get back on the court."
That might be bad news for the rest of the Division 2 teams in Michigan.