Arizona basketball: Runner-up complex

Washington's Isaiah Thomas broke Arizona's hearts - and ended the Wildcats' hope for a conference title - when he hit a game-winner in 2011. The UA looks to win a Pac-12 final after finishing second the last two years.


Attracting big-time recruits over the summer wasn't the only major benefit of Arizona's new $1.6 million basketball/volleyball workout room.

The Wildcat men's basketball team also used the place. A lot.

Chris Rounds, UA's associate director for performance enhancement, said he's been able to more effectively train players in the Cole and Jeannie Davis Strength and Conditioning Center, which features oversized cardio- and strength-training equipment at the east end of the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium.

"It really has gotten better," Rounds said. "Our culture and work ethic has been established, and the Cole and Jeannie Davis Center makes such a big difference. We have the space and size you'd want. I'm getting guys through workouts in half the time."

Rounds said only two players entered the start of school last month with weight issues - big man Kyryl Natyazhko and Solomon Hill - but neither one is a major concern.

Here's a breakdown of how the Wildcats' 12 scholarship players shape up, entering the start of limited workouts continue this month:

Bad gains

• Natyazhko: Listed as having 264 pounds on his 6-foot-11 frame last season, the junior center reported to UA at 305 after spending part of the summer at home in Ukraine.

"His eating habits weren't great," Rounds said. "But he's been doing extra conditioning and he's got 12 percent body fat. He's doing a good job for making up the damage that he did."

• Hill: The junior forward has been heavier than his coaches would like during all three summers since he committed to Arizona in spring 2009. Hill is listed at 6-6, 226, but is hovering around 230 now.

"We want him to get under 225," Rounds said. "He could be 234 one day and 226 the next. You want to get them to understand how to maintain weight better. It's a process of education."

Good gains

• Kyle Fogg: The 6-3 senior guard did more than just put up nearly 40,000 shots over the summer. He also put on about 15 pounds of muscle - after playing between 170 and 174 pounds last season - despite a high metabolism that keeps him from easily gaining weight.

"He's worked as hard as a person possibly could," Rounds said. "He knows what to do from a dietary standpoint."

• Jordin Mayes: After Fogg's manic shooting, Mayes' gain of about 20 pounds - while dealing with a stress fracture in his foot - was probably the biggest story of the offseason. The 6-2 guard, about 195 pounds right now, was listed at 185 last season but played in the 170s, Rounds said.

"He learned how to work," Rounds said. "He was a little behind in intensity as a freshman. It kind of surprised him when he first got here."

• Jesse Perry: Without Derrick Williams around, Perry may have to guard much bigger players at times and he's preparing for it. Rounds said Perry is at about 220 pounds now, about 10 more than he had on his 6-7 frame last season.

"He's really put himself in position to have a good senior year," Rounds said.

• Kevin Parrom: The 6-6 junior forward is building a body that matches his rugged versatility - he's up to 215 from about 205. "He's gained a lot of strength," Rounds said.

No gain

• Brendon Lavender: The senior shooting guard still has about 215 pounds on a 6-5 frame, but Rounds says he's continued to work to get stronger.

No pain

• Alex Jacobson: Weight (250 pounds) isn't the worry with 7-footer known as "Tree" - it's how well his back will hold up after he's missed many games and practices with back issues. Jacobson says he's concentrated on abdominal workouts, while Rounds said he's not worried.

"He's healthy at this point," Rounds said.

The freshmen

• Sidiki Johnson: A conditioning coach's dream, Johnson has about 224 pounds - and just 7.8 percent body fat - on his 6-8 frame.

"He works really hard and he's genetically gifted," Rounds said.

• Angelo Chol: The 6-9 forward has ranged between 208 any 217 pounds so far at UA, but don't let that fool you. His fast metabolism is the main reason his body isn't bigger, and he's still strong enough to have led Wildcat freshmen in bench-press repetitions.

"I would say Angelo has been training," Rounds said. "His high school coach talked about him having a good work ethic."

Freshman guards Josiah Turner (6-3, 185) and Nick Johnson (6-2, 195) have both been low-maintenance, hard workers, Rounds said.