This is big news for UCLA, pun only somewhat intended.
McDonald's All-American center Joshua Smith in July was listed at 305 pounds, but Yahoo! Sports reports that the freshman has lost 40 pounds since June. Ben Howland wouldn't let him touch a basketball on campus until he followed dieting and workout plans.
"I'm not going to lie," Smith said. "It was frustrating for me. I felt like all I was doing was working out. I wasn't allowed to get on the court with the guys. I wasn’t getting to [bond] with them.
"But I knew everything [Howland] was doing was for the right reasons. During my high school years I never lifted weights other than in gym class. I had never worked out on my own. I see now the difference it can make."
Two weeks ago, Smith returned to his hometown for the first time since leaving for college. He said some of his relatives and friends hardly recognized him.
Smith should be closer to 280 pounds, his listed weight when he signed a national letter of intent in November, and getting to around there should allow him more stamina on the court.
The Bruins are counting on the 6-foot-10 Smith to provide an interior presence and develop as he goes, with his rise as a player possibly mirroring the program's rise back to being a national contender.