SAN ANTONIO (WOOD) — As fans made their way into San Antonio’s AT&T Center before Thursday night’s NCAA Tournament game, Michigan guard and Grand Rapids native Kobe Bufkin didn’t see his dad in the stands.
Michigan was on the court warming up while Mike Bufkin was still stuck in an airport. His connecting flight from Dallas was delayed and he wondered if he was ever going to make it to San Antonio.
“I tried to get on standby and get to another flight, but it didn’t happen for me. It was 10 minutes into half when I walked in the door,” Mike Bufkin said.
Better late than never. Mike Bufkin had been to all of the NCAA Tournament games this season and wasn’t going to miss this one. Distance was no object for the lifelong Michigan fan who got to see his son, a former Grand Rapids Christian standout, in the Sweet 16.
“It’s surreal, man. It’s been great. You’re a father first and then you become a fan, and it’s been great, man,” Mike Bufkin said.
Michigan ultimately lost to Villanova, bringing its NCAA Tournament run to a close for the season.
Kobe Bufkin ended his freshman year playing in 28 games off the bench and a Big Ten freshman of the week honor in December. With three more years of eligibility, Bufkin has the opportunity to build the future for Michigan basketball.
“When you have a young team, 10 underclassmen, you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get, but you know you’re going to get basketball,” head coach Juwan Howard said. “And when I look back on this season, there’s no reason but to hold your head up high.”
“Hopefully Kobe will be the next one to set a trend and that these guys keep working hard and hopefully can come back and help some of the younger kids, and let them know what it takes to make it,” Mike Bufkin said.