Raul Delgado has seen tough days. He was at Western Nebraska Community College, playing basketball and no stranger to long bus rides.
The worst was a trip all the way to Texas in a vehicle where the heater was broken, it was well below zero degrees outside and Delgado — a Mexico native and just a few years removed from that home — found himself huddled in multiple blankets.
"But I still got sick," he said, smiling. "We all did."
That he's smiling right now isn't just because those hauls (common at the junior-college level) no longer exist at relatively plush BYU. But because he's playing at all, after a scary injury right before the start of the school year.
"I guess I just have good genes," Delgado said of a fast recovery time on a dislocated elbow.
He points out his father back in Mexico was once severely shocked by electricity at work, and overcame it quickly.
Told in August it could be 3-4 months, after a freak accident upon getting hit after he dunked a basketball, Delgado was back in six weeks.
He said the third-degree burns to his father were prescribed as needing about six months to heal.
"He was back to work in a month and a half," Delgado said.
The younger Delgado came to Utah at age 16, on the connection of a couple of basketball coaches, winding up after a year at Springville High.
He went to WNCC, which has recruited some Utah players in the past. And the Cougars, a few years ago, signed Rashaun Broadus.
Broadus was regarded at BYU for his ballhandling. It will be Delgado's shooting that is his meal ticket.
He once made 12 3-pointers in a juco game, and could be counted upon to make an impact at helping BYU improve upon an outside shooting percentage that lagged last winter.
Head coach Dave Rose said Tuesday after practice he believes nine or 10 players could start for this particular team. It stands to reason Delgado is in the mix, though right now he is the backup to sophomore Matt Carlino. And Craig Cusick was rewarded with a start in the team's first exhibition game last weekend.
Rose believes a more experienced guard line will help open up all sorts of options that didn't showcase themselves last year.
Delgado said his dad has told him to treat every practice like it's a job interview.
Though he admits it was a little harder to stay focused every day when first coming back, after a two-year stint in a quiet area of Nebraska.
"There was not a lot to do," Delgado said. "But it was a great experience for me, especially academically."
Rose hasn't gone the junior-college route in a few years, though Delgado is joined by Argentine and Salt Lake Community College resident Agustin Ambrosino, a 6-foot-8 power forward who made nearly 50 percent of his 3-point shots last year (it's typical in Rose's schemes to have a 4-spot player that can stretch a defense with outside shooting). He and Delgado have added a nice international flavor to the roster.
That Delgado is participating, however, is a marvel to Rose.
Rose remembers getting the call from a BYU athletic trainer, who was buzzed by Delgado that the player was in El Paso, Texas, at a hospital. Delgado had gone for a slam dunk and had his arm hit at a bad angle.
"That wasn't one of the best days we've had," Rose said. "But he's a tough guy. It's a very difficult injury to recover from, especially in the time frame. But Raul did all of the work, all of the rehab and listened to doctors. He's fortunate to be back already."
Tip-ins: BYU's second and final exhibition game is Saturday at the Marriott Center against Findlay (Ohio), a Division II program. ...Guard Anson Winder (ankle) will miss at least the next week of practices, Rose said, while wearing a protective boot to try and help him overcome a sprained ankle suffered in August. Recent X-rays were negative.