Photo / Bruce Ely

Cutting Fast Food Results in a Quicker Alexander Ahead of Summer League

by Cody Sharrett

For any rookie in the NBA, there are going to be some learning experiences that come with adjusting to the pro game and the lifestyle that comes with it. Entering the league at just 19 years old as an unsigned draft pick following a half season at the University of Kansas, Trail Blazers forward Cliff Alexander was forced to grow up quickly during his rookie campaign in 2015-16.

"I learned a lot my first year, just maturing," Alexander said Thursday at the Blazers Summer League mini-camp. "Learned a lot learning to be a pro... Just adjusting to the NBA lifestyle."

Part of that maturation included learning to take care of his body. At 6-8 and 240 lbs. during his time at Kansas, Alexander entered the league with a frame comparable to those of LeBron James and Draymond Green. However, his eating habits kept him from reaching his full potential during his rookie season. 

"When the season first began, I was like 260 (lbs.)," the Chicago native said. "I was a little bit overweight. I got fined a few times." 

Thanks to an offseason workout regimen put together by the Blazers sports performance coaches Todd Forcier and Ben Kenyon while cutting out fast food, Alexander arrived at Summer League mini-camp looking slimmer and swifter on the court. He's listed at 245 lbs. on the team's official Summer League roster and is hoping to rediscover the form that once had him projected as a lottery pick out of college. 

"I’ve slimmed down a little bit, trying to stay in shape and get back to my old ways," Alexander said. "I’m lighter, more athletic. I feel bouncy."

Without the burgers and fries on his plate, Alexander will have a chance to showcase his new bounce over the next two weeks when the Blazers take part in the Samsung Summer League in Las Vegas. Though Alexander only featured in eight games with Portland during his first season as a pro, he hopes to build on the 15 points and 7.2 rebounds he averaged in a four-game stint with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA D-League. 

"Knocking down a few jumpers, getting 8.5-10 rebounds, playing solid," Alexander plotted out his Summer League goals.

"Pretty much, just playing solid. Hopefully getting double-doubles."

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