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Wednesday, July 14, 2010
UNC's Henson has a 'wasp's waist'

By Eamonn Brennan

During UNC forward John Henson's recruitment, the No. 2-ranked power forward in the class of 2009 was good at pretty much everything. According to our own recruiting analysis, Henson was a "true triple threat player" who could "rebound and go coast to coast or lead the break where he makes good decisions and passes like a guard." He was "as good as advertised, if not better."

John Henson
UNC forward John Henson is trying to add bulk this offseason.
There was only one problem: "the obvious strength factor."

For a 6-foot-10 player, Henson's lack of girth is startling. He came into North Carolina with just 183 pounds on his frame, and a year later, the recruiting projections hold: Henson is a very skilled player whose body prevented him from doing much in his freshman season. He was simply too weak to play with veteran ACC forwards, and his numbers -- 16 minutes, 5.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game -- suffered accordingly.

So Henson is trying to do another obvious thing: Get fatter. OK, not exactly fatter. Bulkier. Bigger-boned. Stronger. Whatever.

According to the Associated Press, Henson is doing just that -- he's up to 210 pounds this offseason. That weight gain comes from six to seven meals a day and four days a week of pushing metal with North Carolina strength and conditioning coach Jonas Sahratian. The work is far from done -- 210 is a nice number, but Henson could certainly add more in the way of muscle -- and it's proving quite the challenge for Mr. Sahratian:

"He’s been the one guy I’ve probably sat up the most at night, pulling my hair out and probably giving me more gray hair, going, ’OK, What do I have to do with him?’" Sahratian said. "Because, he is, he’s kind of like a wet noodle. ... He’s got the most minuscule joints you’ve ever seen. His waist is like a wasp’s waist. Most girls would kill for it.

"It’s getting better. It’s been a rough road. He’s been probably the most difficult guy I’ve ever had to train."

A "wet noodle" with a "wasp's waist." It's not exactly "as good as advertised, if not better." But the recruiting services weren't wrong: Henson's weakness is strength. If he gets bigger, bulkier, and stronger around the hoop -- without losing the smooth all-court skill that earned him scouting accolades in the first place -- he's going to be fearsome.

So eat, John! Eat! It may be tough piling down all that delicious calorie-rich food, but those of us with normal metabolisms can attest: You have no idea how good you've got it.