December 11, 2012

UCLA's Muhammad finally slimming down

Ben Howland and UCLA's true freshmen affectionately called it the "Breakfast Club."

And when Jordan Adams talks about it, a wry smile creeps onto his face and his head instinctively starts shaking.

"That was for the overweight freshmen coming in," the Bruins star guard recalls. "Me, Tony (Parker) and Kyle (Anderson) had breakfast club … We all were up at 7 a.m. working out."

The goal, according to Adams, was to get some of the baby fat off of UCLA's stacked class. And it worked. Adams lost around 15 pounds, as did Tony Parker and Kyle Anderson.

The one true freshman who was missing from the Bruins new fraternity, though, went in the opposite direction. Shabazz Muhammad lounged around, ate Animal Style fries, candy and juice, and saw his weight balloon up from 215 in his senior year of high school to around 235 just a few weeks ago.

"It was from just chilling out," Muhammad said of his weight gain. "When I wasn't playing, I was just sitting out. I was gaining that weight by eating and wasn't really burning it off."

So Muhammad packed on the "Freshman 15," and immediately saw his game deteriorate.

The work ethic, the drive, the explosiveness that made him the No. 1 overall recruit in the country - all of that was gone with the extra weight.

"It impacted my athletic ability," Muhammad said. "I couldn't do much. I was so out of shape."

Finally, a few days ago, Muhammad had seen enough. He was tired of watching offensive players dribble by him, and he was even more tired of not having his usual lift and explosiveness on the offensive end of the floor.

He stopped the In-N-Out runs, cut out the candy, started eating more fruits and veggies, and says he's down from around 235 to 222 - just about seven pounds shy of his goal of 215.

And already, as of Tuesday afternoon, he's feeling the benefits of his diet.

"Today in practice, I was so explosive," Muhammad said. "I mean, I could feel it."

Adams saw it too.

"We were just running sprints and he was one of the guys that was out in front," the freshman said. "So he's getting his legs back under him."

It's an encouraging sign for a UCLA team that looks like it could use a collective diet as well.

Muhammad, the best high school senior in the country, looked like anything but that the first few weeks of the season. He's averaging 16 points per game in 28 minutes per game, but his defense has been shoddy at best and his offense has become a bit of a black hole.

Although with the weight off and the explosiveness returning, Muhammad, Adams and the Bruins are hopeful he finally gets everything back on track.

"You'll see the motor that doesn't stop," Adams said when asked what fans can expect to see from a slimmed down Muhammad. "You'll see him go out there and dominate his defender."



 

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