Alternate headline: UNC's basketball strength and conditioning program is the best in the country.
More summer interviews occurred today with Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks meeting with the assembled media.
The big takeaways from Meeks' comments were the update on his weight and the fact he's now doing windmill dunks to get his teammates out of extra running. When Meeks arrived in Chapel Hill last summer he was 317 lbs and played last season listed at 290 lbs. Now? Meeks says he is in the low 270s with hopes of dropping a little more weight. The word "explosive" is being used in conjunction with Meeks now who says he hopes to rely less on pump fakes now he can get shows up quicker.
While it remains to be seen what Meeks will look like in live action, it appears he is doing everything necessary to get his conditioning in order. After all, that was really the missing piece. Meeks had issues staying on the court and played below the rim too much. Dropping weight in combination with improvements to his explosiveness and vertical should make him a legitimate offensive threat against most teams while serving as a perfect compliment to Brice Johnson in the post. It also permits UNC to get back to playing inside-out basketball which is how Roy Williams prefers his offense to function.
Speaking of the interior, the departure of James Michael McAdoo has opened the door for Isaiah Hicks to move back to power forward from small forward. Hicks will almost certainly be the primary backup for Johnson and says he is working on post moves to better play that position. However the biggest change for Hicks may be between his ears. Hicks acknowledged a lack of confidence as well as being hesitant far too often. Watching Hicks last season, he appeared to be too focused on not making a mistake to the point simply making the instinctual play was often sacrificed. In short, he suffered a bit from being afraid of making a mistake which can be crippling at times.
Hicks indicated he was working to overcome that. He also has the continued benefit of playing behind Johnson and being back at his natural position. With McAdoo gone and the influx of wing players in the freshman class means Hicks will get to stay at the four and have ample opportunities to contribute.
One additional observation: Is there any doubt UNC's strength and conditioning program is the best in college basketball assuming the player is willing to do the work? In one year Jonas Sahratian has taken an out-of-shape player in Meeks, enabled him to drop almost 50 pounds and improve the athletic aspects of his game. And it's not like Meeks is the first player to enter the program and develop significantly. The jury is obviously still out on Meeks' overall game until he is seen in real games but simply the change in his body from last summer to now speaks volumes about UNC's development program in general.