2022-23 Season

‘He’s a gym rat’: Offseason in Ann Arbor paying off for Kobe Bufkin

Kobe Bufkin came to Ann Arbor with high expectations. After tearing it up in high school for Grand Rapids Christian and blossoming into a McDonald’s All-American, Bufkin joined Michigan ready to make his mark in college right away.

But it wasn’t that simple. As a kid who turned 18 a couple of months before the season started, Bufkin was young and small compared to many other college players. Not only that, but COVID rules meant older players stuck around for extra seasons. Bufkin had to face full-grown men on a nightly basis, and his frame — by all means well-conditioned — just wasn’t big enough for the task.

Enter Sandman.

Bufkin spent the greater part of this summer in the gym with Jon Sanderson, the Wolverines’ strength and conditioning coach, as well as his training staff and team managers. And the results have paid off, as Bufkin tacked on 20 pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame. A hefty part of that is muscle.

“The extra pounds of muscle is not where it’s just fat, this is lean muscle,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said Thursday. “It will not prohibit him from being faster, quicker, athletic. This is muscle that is athletic muscle that will be able to move and still not be knocked off your route and able to defend, being a two way player.”

The location of Bufkin’s lab work can’t be overlooked. Instead of traveling across the country to work with specialists, he locked in at Crisler Center, his own world away from the noise. In that environment, Bufkin has polished his game with the Wolverines’ staff, but he also found plenty of help from those around him, especially alumni like Zavier Simpson and Franz Wagner

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