Jun 25, 2013, 4:53 PM EST
Maurice Walker began his career at Minnesota weighing 340-pounds. When Richard Pitino was hired in April, he brought with him a face-paced offense from Florida International with him.
For the 6-foot-10 Walker — who got down to 310-pounds this season — he had to adapt if he wanted to stay with the Golden Gophers for next year. And according to a column written by Minnesota Star Tribune columnist Chip Scoggins, Walker has slimmed down 40-pounds since the end of the 2012-2013 campaign, crediting the Pitino hire as motivation for change.
“Once I heard Pitino, I was really excited,” he said.
And then they met for the first time. Pitino has made Walker’s weight a standard quip in his public speeches, and he didn’t mince words in offering a blunt critique of his 6-10 junior center.
“[He said] it’s going to take a lot of work to get into shape and that I’m a long ways from where I need to be,” Walker said.
He’s still not there yet, but Walker has lost nearly 40 pounds through diet and fitness training. Noticeably slimmer, he hopes to lose an additional 15 to 20 pounds and enter next season around 255.
The column highlights an incredible dedication made by Walker to alter his weight in order to take full advantage of his remaining years in Minnesota uniform. He has removed carbohydrates from his diet, shaved a minute off his mile time and has elected to stay on campus this summer rather than return home to Canada.
“I was dead tired,” Walker told Scoggins about his first workout with his new coach..
It’s not even July and Walker has already seen the improvements, including ending each workout with a dunk.
With Walker pushing himself to trim down pound-by-pound, it makes Pitino’s first year in the Big Ten that much easier. At 310-pounds, Walker averaged 2.2 points and 2.0 rebounds per game this past season. Trevor Mbakwe, who averaged 8.7 boards per game, has graduated and having Walker in better shape gives the Gophers’ frontline a boost.
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