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Is UCLA’s Joshua Smith getting into shape?

Joshua Smith, Kyle Fogg

UCLA’s Joshua Smith, left, pressures Arizona’s Kyle Fogg during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Pac-12 conference championship in Los Angeles, Thursday, March 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)


The good news is that UCLA’s Joshua Smith realizes that something needs to change.

The good news is that, instead of returning home and sitting on the couch all summer long (like he did after his freshman season), Smith is still on campus. Working out with the team.

And apparently 15 pounds lighter than he was at the end of the season:

Smith, a junior, said he has lost at least 15 pounds since the end of last season. He is consulting a nutritionist, spending more time in the gym and the results were evident during a summer workout Tuesday, when he ran up and down the court for nearly an hour without showing much fatigue.

That’s good.

Now he needs to go and drop another 40 or 50 pounds, depending on what he actually ended up weighing by the end of the season.

Smith was the most disappointing player in the country last season, and it had everything to do with his weight and his conditioning. As a freshman, there were times that he was absolutely dominant. Despite weighing well over 300 pounds (I’m not buying the 305 that he is listed at), Smith is quick, has nimble feet and a very soft touch around the rim. His issue is his stamina. He’s got none. And because he tires so quickly, he’s incredibly foul prone. So that means the already limited minutes that Smith can play are cut even more because of foul trouble.

Hopefully, he sees the writing on the wall. UCLA has a deep front court next season. If he doesn’t get himself into shape, Ben Howland won’t be playing him; Tony Parker, Anthony Stover and the Wear twins will be getting his minutes.

Smith has a long way to go to get into shape.

The best news?

At least he realizes it:

“I can admit that last summer I didn’t take that step to improve my game,” he said. “I had an OK freshman year, people were praising me, I kind of got my feet wet in D-1, I kind of got my feet wet in the Pac 12 and I thought I knew what to expect. But you see that guys in the offseason were in the gym, in the weight room and stuff & It was like if you put in the work, good things would happen and that’s what I’m trying to do.”


“Last summer, I can admit I didn’t do anything,” he said. “I went to the gym every so often, I was chilling and enjoying my summer. It’s like if you want to get to that next level, you’ve got to put in the work. I just took it upon myself to get in better shape because I’m just trying to help the team out and I feel like if I’m in better shape, if I’m in the best shape of my life, I can help the team out and help us win.”

Acknowledgement is the first step towards recovery.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.