Kiara Buford, a senior for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, is very familiar with the beliefs and conventions aligned with inner-city communities.
The 5-foot-11 St. Paul native spent her high school days at St. Paul Central. Her mother, who also played college basketball, graduated from crosstown rival Highland Park and still lives in Minnesota’s state capital.
While no one lumps Buford with the ghetto stereotypes associated with inner-city schools when she hits the floor at Williams Arena, she is proud to call herself a college graduate, knowing friends who were unable to finish their college education.
In reality, Buford is very adept to shrugging off criticism, not reading any blogs pertaining to herself or her Gophers teammates.
She notes that most furious entries state weaknesses about playing ability and talent that are already known amongst the squad. Others focus on the inconsistent play that has followed her throughout her college career.
Last year, as a junior, Buford became the 20th player in Minnesota history to reach 1,000 career points. While reaching four digits is a significant milestone, few would guess she pulled that off if they read forums regarding her play.
Eschewing her point total is a popular option given the struggles she has encountered sharing time between the point guard and shooting guard positions. Buford’s assist-to-turnover ratio as a junior was a low 0.8, and she currently sits at a 1.07 ratio this season.
Although Buford currently sits in the top 10 in the Big Ten Conference in steals, her field goal percentage has never been higher than 41 for a season.
Beyond statistics, several fans suggested she was trying too hard to carry the team by herself, a notion she refutes.
Buford has never been vain with obstacles she never had to deal with as a high school player at St. Paul Central, where she won back-to-back class AAAA state championships that included an undefeated 32-0 run in the 2006-07 season.
In fact, an unintentional foreboding may have arrived in 2008, when she lost out the Miss Basketball Minnesota award to Chaska’s Courtney Boylan, now a senior at Michigan.
Buford’s chances of getting drafted and making a WNBA team are low, but that has not stopped her from embracing the role model character for young players, including her youngest sister, Jada.
Beyond athletics, Buford is still evaluating potential pathways with her degree. She loves to talk, and some joke she could usurp someone as a broadcaster. Buford also has modeling experience, getting featured in a Target banner ad prior to enrolling at Minnesota.
Whatever choice is made, she will come away from her experience with the Gophers a wiser woman.