Even by the relative standards of Division I basketball players, UCLA center Josh Smith is a big, big dude. In many ways, this is an advantage. Smith's girth allows him to push defenders into uncomfortable positions on the low block, which allows him compensate for any perceived disadvantages in the vertical leap department. Put more simply: He leans on people. And quite often, it works.
But there is such a thing as being too big. Smith was listed at 6-foot-10, 305 pounds as a freshman last season, and weight measurement is almost certainly on the generous side. (Don't judge; you know you dropped 15 pounds off your frame at the DMV. I'm onto you.) Smith's game would benefit from trimming down and turning some of that mass into muscle.
Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be happening. Instead, as Ben Howland told CBS's Gary Parrish yesterday, Smith has actually gained weight in the offseason:
"Right now he's about 10 pounds over where he was last season," Howland said matter-of-factly.
As Parrish writes, that's not exactly the best sign for Smith's progression in his sophomore year. No, the big fella doesn't need to go all South Beach Diet. But he also can't afford to pack any more pounds on to what is already an overly bulky frame.
I won't lie: It makes me feel weird to write about this, because I don't really like to criticize people for their appearance. But this isn't about appearance so much as productivity, about the amazing potential the UCLA sophomore -- who has the intuitively soft hands of a much smaller player -- has flashed in his first performances on the collegiate level.
To put it another way: Smith's potential is enormous. To fully reach it, he needs to be less so.