Cameron Koford, show here against San Diego, ranks fifth in the Mountain West in blocked shots.
Feb. 14, 2003
By Marcus Malmberg, Sports Information Student Assistant
Cameron Koford, who is in his third and final season at Utah, has developed into a key contributor as the Utes contend for the Mountain West Conference title. Filling the self-proclaimed "cleanup" role, Koford has helped the Utes to a 6-1 conference start, providing them with a big man off the bench who has the capability to have a major impact on a game.
"My goal this season is just to make the team better," says Koford. "We are stocked with talent and I just want to do the cleanup work and shut down the other teamıs big men."
Through 22 games, Koford has been productive in his "cleanup" role, averaging 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game. He also ranks fifth in the Mountain West Conference with 27 blocked shots.
A Plain City, Utah, native, Koford played as a freshman at Weber State. He elected to transfer to the U. following his return from a two-year LDS church mission. Looking back, Koford says his most memorable game to date was not in a Utah uniform, but rather when he was an opponent of Utah.
"When I was a freshman at Weber State we played Utah, I had 12 rebounds and six points. I had no idea that I would end up coming to Utah at that time," recalls Koford, "but that game was a lot of fun, battling the Utah big guys and playing as a freshman."
Now in his senior season as a Runnin' Ute, Koford is hopeful of enjoying more memorable moments.
"My experience has helped me a lot this year. I have become stronger mentally and physically and it has taught me that itıs a long season, and from practice-to-practice and game-to-game you can always come back and make improvements," adds Koford.
Playing for one of the best teachers in the game in Rick Majerus, Koford has elevated his game to a new level. In addition to honing his physical skills, Koford recognizes that he has also matured mentally. "Coach Majerus has a lot of basketball knowledge. He is very good at breaking down a team and pointing out things that I would have never seen," states Koford. "Playing for him for three years has really benefited me. It has made me tougher mentally, which will help me throughout my life."
One instance where Koford was able to showcase his maturity this season was a road game against Pepperdine on Dec. 20. With leading scorer and rebounder Britton Johnsen back at home recovering from thumb surgery, the Utes watched a 14-point lead diminish to a mere three points at 46-43. With the game in doubt, Koford grabbed a key rebound, leading to two free throws for Nick Jacobsen. Following the free throws Koford added two-blocked shots and a jumper that put Utah ahead 55-47. Utah would never look back, winning 77-61 to pick up a key nonconference road win.
"With Britton out, it gave me a chance to step up and show my athleticism and how well I can play defense," notes Koford. He finished the game with 10 points, seven rebounds and career-high six blocks.
As a seven-footer, it should come as no surprise that Koford has tried to mirror a specific NBA star. "I try to model my game after Tim Duncan," reveals Koford. He is an athletic big man that can step up and shoot and dribble well, and he is quick enough to guard guys smaller than him."
Off the court, Koford enjoys activities that take him away from the bright lights of the Huntsman Center. "I like to do anything outdoors, shooting guns and camping, things that get me out of the city," he says.
The native Utahn is the first to admit his large family is full of avid basketball fans. Cameron is the son of Noel and Ardath Koford and has an older brother Chris, who was a two-year starter at Fresno State. "My family is a crazy, big family that is very supportive of me, they all really love basketball," adds Koford.
That big family got just a little bit bigger this past summer when Koford married Emilie Tidwell on June 14. "Being married has really calmed me down and given me order," comments Koford. Apparently Koford wasn't alone in his way of thinking, as three other Utes were also married during the off season.
Following the conclusion of his career at Utah, Koford will look at several options to fill his time. "I am going to ride basketball for as long as I can. After that I might work with my brother in construction or I may coach basketball," says Koford, who worked with the junior varsity basketball team at St. Joe's High School in Ogden, Utah, while he sat out the 1996-97 season at Weber State.
In the meantime, Koford and his teammates are focused on making another run to a conference championship and the NCAA Tournament. Koford is focused on doing whatever he can to help his team, and knows that at any time he may be called upon to come off the bench and change the course of the game. That is what the cleanup role is all about, and Cameron Koford is the right man for the job.