University of Minnesota strength and conditioning coach Shaun Brown jokes that the Gophers coaching staff keeps a daily lottery on how much weight JUCO transfer Carlos Morris has added.
As the players headed home for late summer break this weekend, the junior-to-be has put on a full 20 pounds since arriving on campus in May. Brown asked the lanky Morris to consume six meals a day, plus snacks since he showed up, in order to build mass quickly and ease him to a Big Ten-ready playing weight.
The staff is pleased with Morris' progress thus far.
"He's a real competitor," Brown said. "He's a real focus kid. He's very coachable."
Morris' balanced game and defensive ability probably keeps him as the favorite to replace the graduated Austin Hollins at small forward, although sophomore Daquein McNeil will likely give him a good run. But Morris promises to bring a much different look to the position than the Gophers had a year ago. The Florida native is not the shooter that Hollins was, but is a much better ball handling and penetrator than his former counterpart.
"You're going to be excited to watch him," Brown said. "It's a different threat, which means he has to be more physical."
That is where the weight gain comes in. Morris has done such a good job on his own -- Brown set the goal of 3/4 of a pound per week -- that midway though the summer the strength and conditioning coach stopped making him send pictures of every bite, which Morris did at the outset. But the staff still wants him to continue to bulk up throughout his two remaining years of eligibility. Currently, he's at 181 pounds, still relatively thin for his 6-foot-5 frame. If he ever gains two pounds and then loses it by the next weigh in, Brown said, the whole team is punished with running. Ultimately, the staff hopes Morris will build to about 195 pounds, Brown said, a size that would give him a good chance of continuing his playing career after college.
"That's the biggest thing he's got to do, Brown said. "If he can do that and work on his shot, then the kid is going to be special."