Koufos: A Mother's Perspective

Recruiting can be an extraordinarily stressful thing for prospective collegiate athletes, but what is often missed is the rest of the family also must go through the experience. Kyle Lamb recently talked with Katerina Koufos, mother of OSU basketball commitment Kosta Koufos, regarding the recruiting process from her point of view.

Two weeks ago at the Ohio State basketball team camp, Kosta Koufos was enjoying the time playing against his future teammates and in front of his future coaching staff.

Koufos, the 7-1 giant from Canton GlenOak High School committed to the Buckeyes in May choosing Ohio State over Louisville and Maryland.

The decision wasn't an easy one for Koufos. He had a lot to consider before he knew Ohio State was where he wanted to be.

But Koufos didn't make the decision all by himself.

His mother Katerina played a big role in the process from beginning to end. While he was busy playing against his friends and future Buckeye teammates, she was soaking in the action from the stands as she customarily does – with a camcorder to go back and watch later.

She spoke with Bucknuts.com at length about the process.

Bucknuts: Talk about what it's like to go through the recruiting process. It's got to seem like a headache?

Katerina Koufos: "The recruiting process? No, actually not. It's been a lot of fun because all of the coaches have been wonderful. They were wonderful up to now. They were considerate of the time and considerate of our schedules. Some people think it's a headache but not us. In fact I was writing a journal this morning and I think the word that I used was exhilarating. It's been an exhilarating process. It has come now to the end of it's destination with Ohio State and I was sitting here in the Schottenstein Center and it was kind of empty, and I was sitting there just processing this whole thing and the word I came up with was exhilarating, and Kosta too. We've had plenty of opportunities to meet people and go places that some people only dream of so how could we be negative about that?"

BN: Maybe it happened already, but when did it sink in for you that Kosta would be in this position and as you mentioned, here in two years he was going to be in this same arena playing in front of 20,000 people. When did that sink in or has it yet?

KK: "It has sunk in but what I've tried to stress to him through the process was all in good time. That's been my phrase. Let's not jump ahead and think of playing in a Division I college. Let's just take it one year of a time, do the very best that you can and then the next opportunity will arise, the next opportunity will arise and we've been very, very fortunate because we've had some very good opportunities that have arisen for him. There have been many doors that have opened."

BN: From your son's standpoint, how proud are you as a mother that he's handled this process, not gotten a swollen head and taken things in stride?

KK: "I really am very, very proud of him. What I've stressed to him always is that you have to be a good person first. Everything else is meaningless if you are not a good person and you don't do the right thing. When he was taking band, the band director from our school would tell the kids right is right even if no one else was doing it – so that's what I've stressed to him too. You've got to make good choices in your life and if you're a good person and you treat people with respect, if you keep your priorities straight, you're ethical and have good values, if you believe in God and are a good Christian and you make the right choices in your life, you can't go wrong with that. If the right opportunity is going to be there for you, it will be."

BN: Going through the process, you said whether it was Columbus or Timbuktu, you just wanted Kosta to go wherever he was most comfortable and was the right situation for him. What was it about Ohio State that ultimately as his mother, you decided this was a good place for him?

KK: "What I told Kosta to do was follow his heart. I supported him in whatever decision he was going to make and we visited some outstanding programs and we had opportunities to meet and talk to some outstanding coaches in the country. They were really top-notch and very classy people. Any place he would have gone, I would have supported him and I didn't really want to sway him to Ohio State because my husband and I graduated from there and all these other things that tied us here to Ohio State, and I wanted it to be his decision. When he finally said Ohio State, of course I was very happy, I was excited about it and being that it was only two hours away I was excited because I could catch all of his home games. Plus, you have outstanding people here with Thad Matta, (Ohio State assistant) Dan Peters, Coach (John) Groce, Coach (Alan) Major and all of the staff. I was impressed, they're just one great group of people."

BN: You mentioned the relationship with the coaches. One of the hardest parts of the process I've heard people constantly tell me is to tell the other coaches of your decision.

KK: "Yes, absolutely."

BN: So that was tough to tell the other coaches that you were selecting Ohio State?

KK: "It was extremely difficult. Kosta made the calls, obviously, as he needed to do that. I was busy with work up until now so I didn't get to talk to them, but now that I'm off for the summer I'm going to write them a letter and thank them because they were very gracious and very helpful and very kind when he called, and they wished him well. They were very classy people and I was very impressed. Some people ask me how I could stand the pressure of this or that, but it has not been pressure. We have not taken it as pressure. We have taken it as opportunities."

BN: The last thing I was going to ask you – some kids want to get this over with and concentrate on their senior seasons, but it seemed throughout the process that Kosta really never batted an eye, he embraced it and enjoyed the whole thing. Is that the case?

KK: "He has enjoyed almost everything. He just loves basketball. Every time he has gone somewhere, what he wanted to do after meeting somebody was go into the gym and shoot. So he would go into their gymnasiums and practice. Of course they couldn't watch him, but they would allow him the opportunity to just go in and shoot to get a feel for the place. So what we did was attend a game at each place when we visited, talk to the coaches on our unofficial visit and I had a whole bunch of questions to ask each one about their academics and how they handle their academic support as well as everything else. Let's face it, all of these top programs have top coaches and outstanding facilities, but as a parent I was concerned about the relationship these people were going to have with my child. Once he's on campus, they were going to be in place of me. I felt very comfortable with the coaches at Ohio State and I think they will do a great job in supporting Kosta and they will be there for him."

BN: Do you think he made the right choice, at least if you were in his shoes?

KK: "I don't want to say it was the right choice because it wouldn't be fair to the other schools that I liked but it's a choice I am very, very happy with."

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