Back in January of 2009, Penn basketball player Remy Cofield wasn’t having as much fun as he imagined he would while playing for the Red and Blue in the Cathedral of College Basketball.
The then-sophomore guard had been averaging 2.8 points in just 10.6 minutes per game that season and was unhappy with both his role on the team as well as the squad’s outlook, given Penn’s rocky 3-8 start.
So, after a team film session, Cofield told then-coach Glen Miller of his intentions to leave the team, effective immediately.
To transfer to a school closer to his family in Massachusetts, sit out the next year as per NCAA regulations, fine-tune his game and return to the hardwood with a fresh start.
However, a look around classrooms — and gyms — on campus shows that Cofield still is very much here at Penn.
Now a senior sociology major, Cofield ultimately decided not to transfer, opting instead to forego basketball for the immediate future and focus on his studies. He has aspirations to attend law school as early as 2012 and become a sports agent.
“I just really wanted to stay at an Ivy League school,” he said. “I’m not going to go transfer to a school that’s academically not where Penn is.”
Looking back, Cofield says he’s “actually kind of happy” he did stay, citing his involvement with the Omega Psi Phi fraternity as a major factor.
But even with Cofield’s academic and social life falling into place, the 2007 runner-up for the Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year couldn’t completely fill the basketball void — the void of countless sprints and the sport to which he dedicated so much of his life.
He must have had the itch to come back to the team, right?
Surprisingly, no. And he had his reasons.
In 2008-09, Penn basketball was in the midst of one of its lowest periods — the Quakers would go on to win just 10 games, their lowest season total since 1990-91, and just six games the following year, the lowest since 1940-41.
Though Cofield could not have foreseen exactly how those two seasons would play out, the prospect of losing weighed on him.
“I really, really want to win in every situation that I’m in, so [losing] played a major role in my decision,” he said. “I always told myself if I was going to play, I wanted to be able to play in the right situation.
“I felt at that time, we weren’t in the right situation to make strides toward a major goal.”
Even with the overhaul of the Penn program in 2010 when Jerome Allen took over for the fired Glen Miller, Cofield says that he had shifted gears and was not looking to come back — neither he nor the coaching staff ever approached one another about the possibility.
Plus, he admits it would take a lot of work in the gym to get back into playing form.
However, that’s not to say Cofield hasn’t filled the hoops void in some ways.
He still plays pickup games at Pottruck Fitness Center — he’s the 6-foot-4, 205-pound guy with Division-I hops — and just two weeks ago, he participated in Penn Recreation’s dunk contest at the Palestra.
Donning a fitted, backwards cap, Cofield stole the show with a dunk up and over two of his friends.
Speaking of friends, Cofield remains close with senior guard Darren Smith — whom Cofield called a “big brother” figure.
Smith said he was “pretty shocked” when Cofield left the team but was relieved when he found out Cofield would be staying at Penn. Today, the two still hang out and talk regularly.
In fact, right after the season ended in early March, Cofield was able to get Smith and a few other Penn hoopsters to play basketball at Pottruck. The varsity players got in more than a few games, given the “win and stay on rules” in pickup.
“I’m sure people got mad,” Smith said with a laugh. “But hey, it was all fun.”
Fun — that’s what Cofield hoped to have when he first came to play for Penn. And while his years here may not have gone as expected, he still had his share.
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