Sometimes, when new Gophers coach Richard Pitino watches redshirt freshman Charles Buggs, he sees into the future. Other times, he can’t help but shake his head.
What the 6-7 power forward ultimately does with those dueling spurts of promise and deficiencies is something that Gophers fans will perhaps start to learn this season, when Buggs – having sat out last season – could contribute in a big way to Minnesota’s thin frontcourt.
None of it will happen overnight, and for now, Buggs is simply trying to grow, both physically and in his game.
“He’ll do things where you go, ‘Oh, my goodness. That kid’s got pro potential,’” Pitino said. “And then he’ll do other things where you just say, ‘What is he doing?’ He’ll drive you insane. But I think when he figures it out, he’s got the most upside of anyone. When I say that, what you see right now is not what you’re going to get with Charles Buggs. Hopefully he will continue to grow and continue to improve because when he puts on weight and when he figures out how to play for me, he’s going to be a very good player down the road. It’s going to take time, though.”
Getting his frame ready is the first step. Since Pitino was hired, Buggs has gained about 22 pounds of muscle, he said – changes that are very evident in the forward’s face and body. A year ago, Buggs showed some flashes of potential in a couple of exhibition games, but his extremely lanky build was a liability in the paint. He’s started to change that around by adding meals and weight training to his routine.
“I eat like 4-5 times a day,” said Buggs noting that he was constantly battling his metabolism and the natural results of all the conditioning Pitino has the team doing. “It’s a ton of lifting, a ton of eating.”
Buggs said he’s gone from 190 pounds to 213 now, with the goal of starting the season at 220. With a current forward corps that loses 20.5 rebounds a game (more than half of what they averaged for the season) after the absences of Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams, Andre Ingram, Joe Coleman and Julian Welch, the Gophers can use the help. Elliott Eliason, Mo Walker, Oto Osenieks and Joey King round out the frontcourt. Certainly, Pitino’s high praise can’t help but motivate the Texas native.
“It just makes me want to work hard and motivate me,” he said. “Because I know I can do certain things but that’s more of putting my mind to it and staying focused.”