Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins will play basketball
Washington freshman tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has started practicing with the Huskies basketball team.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Growing up in Gig Harbor, Austin Seferian-Jenkins avoided choosing between his favorite sports when picking his room décor.
"Honestly I never had posters in my room when I was a little kid," he said laughing. "I had little Pokemon stickers."
Still the debate that began during a brilliant high school career followed him to Washington — football or basketball?
"I love both football and basketball a lot and I want to be able to play both of them if I can and I have a chance to," he said. "So I got to follow my dreams and play both."
It was never an either/or proposition for the 6-foot-6, 258-pound freshman, who played in all 13 UW football games last season, catching 41 passes for 538 yards, with six touchdowns.
The real question was if Seferian-Jenkins, one of the cornerstones for the UW football team and a bright young star in the Pac-12, would spend his offseason with the basketball team and risk injury.
"You can get hurt walking outside on the street," he said. "No one can predict the future. If I get hurt, I get hurt but I'm not going to think or play like I've got to be careful.
"I'm going to go all out, and whatever happens happens. I'm not really worried about that. I play with no fear and no reservations."
Wearing a sleeveless white shirt and long, baggy purple shorts Seferian-Jenkins looked as if he belonged on the hardwood during his first practice Monday with the hoops squad.
He spent the first few minutes working on his midrange jumper before joining 7-foot center Aziz N'Diaye in a low-post drill led by coach Lorenzo Romar.
Several Huskies watched the newest addition as he worked out, and his presence created a buzz at practice.
"I didn't even know until today," junior co-captain Abdul Gaddy said. "I saw him walking to get taped and I was like, 'You're about to play at the IMA?' and he said, 'Nah, I'm practicing today.'
"I was like, 'Oh wow.' That was the first time I found out about it. So yeah, it's a little surprising."
Seferian-Jenkins played with several UW players last summer in pickup games, but Romar hadn't seem him play competitively since his days at Gig Harbor, where he averaged 19 points and eight rebounds as a senior.
The Huskies are relatively thin on the front line, but Romar is unsure if Seferian-Jenkins will be able to immediately compete for minutes.
The Washington coach is certain Seferian-Jenkins will not play Tuesday against Seattle University. It's also unlikely he'll make his basketball debut Sunday against Washington State because he needs to learn UW's schemes.
"He's going to practice with us first and then we'll go from there," Romar said. "If he was a guy that we were promising a starting spot and he was going to be playing 40 minutes a game, then that would be a distraction.
"He has every intent to come out and help our basketball team. The person that he is definitely not is an I-guy, a prima donna. He's a hard, hard worker. Our guys like him."
During the recruiting process, football coach Steve Sarkisian promised Seferian-Jenkins he'd have the chance to play both sports.
Following a season-ending 67-56 defeat in the Alamo Bowl, Seferian-Jenkins spent a week away from football. He spoke with his mother, Sarkisian and Romar about the possibility of playing basketball.
On Saturday he decided to join the team.
"It takes a tremendous athlete to be able to play football and basketball at the Pac-12 level and Austin certainly has that sort of ability," Sarkisian said. "It's a great opportunity and I fully support him."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @percyallen.
|Austin Seferian-Jenkins will be the fourth athlete to play football and basketball at Washington since the beginning of the Pac-10 (now Pac-12) Conference. The others:|
*Rogers played basketball the 1982-83 season through the 1984-85 season; Frederick played basketball during the 2001-02 season; Robinson played basketball the 2002-03 through 2004-05 seasons.