Prior to the beginning of his first season, Meeks entered UNC weighing nearly 320 pounds. Fast forward two years, and he has shed approximately 60 pounds — the average size of a 9-year-old boy.
In Friday’s exhibition game versus Guilford College, the 260-pound junior registered 14 points and five blocks. The growth in his speed and agility was clear to other players on the floor, like junior guard Nate Britt.
“He’s lost a lot of weight — he looks more athletic and more fit,” Britt said. “Everyone can see that he is running the floor better. He’s also more mobile on defense, and that will help us out a lot.”
Off the court, the key for Meeks is making better nutritional decisions. He shies away from the fried chicken and hamburgers, instead opting for the salads and grilled chicken.
On the court, a new practice drill called the 15-second shot clock has helped with Meeks’ weight loss. In the drill, players must score in less than 15 seconds. The drill lasts about 15 minutes.
“It’s a great conditioning tactic,” Meeks said. “But it also gets us up and down the floor a lot more as far as getting those easy buckets and getting stops on the defensive end.”
Coach Roy Williams said the challenge for Meeks isn’t nearly as hard as what he’s already done. Now that he isn’t carrying as much weight, Williams expects him to jump higher and use his athleticism.
“I’d get on him all the time about his double pump and laying it up against somebody’s armpit,” Williams said. “And he can explode up now.”
Although he has lost bulk, Meeks said he doesn’t think his weight loss will prevent him from being physical with bigger players.
Instead, the weight loss is only an opportunity to improve his game.
“Going against Joel (James) in practice every day doesn’t hurt,” said Meeks, regarding matchups versus physical defenders. “Right now, I have enough experience to know when I should take control of getting a certain position or playing below the rim or whatever it may be against certain players.”
In the offseason, the junior forward has tried to add finesse to his arsenal. Along with perfecting his jump hook and turnaround jumper, he has also worked with Coach Hubert Davis on expanding his shooting range.
But Meeks isn’t looking to become a 3-point shooting threat any time soon — he is well aware of his role on the team.
“Eventually that’d be my goal,” said Meeks, regarding his perimeter shooting ability. “But right now I just need to do what coach wants me to do.
“Which is be a big-time player in the post.”