Greg Lee knows his favorite Jack in the Box order by heart. Two sausage croissant sandwiches and medium curly fries. $9.35, he remembers. Every Sunday. That’s the day the Cal State Bakersfield men’s basketball team usually gets off, after all.
“I’d give myself a one-day break,” Lee said. “Fast food for one day.”
But since about the end of last season, the CSUB forward has gone without his weekly trips to that or any other fast food chains. He revamped his diet and exercise regime as part of a “life-changing” summer.
Lee, listed at 6-foot-9, added 10 pounds of muscle to get to 210 prior to his redshirt sophomore season. He’s taken on a bigger role and a different one that involves playing more down low. His next challenge will be taking on the big men at USC when the Roadrunners head to the Galen Center for a 4 p.m. matchup on Sunday.
“There’s no question about that,” CSUB head coach Rod Barnes said when asked if he can see the difference in Lee. “He is so much stronger. He’s in so much better in condition. He’s caring about his body.”
In March, after the final game of the year, everyone’s focus shifted toward the next season, 2018-19. CSUB looked ahead at a smaller Roadrunners lineup. Center Moataz Aly was a senior and Fallou Ndoye ended up transferring for his graduate season.
“It was how the season went and how I could help my team,” Lee said of his motivation to change. “It was more than me. How can I put myself in position to be successful with the team as well? My team motivated me because we needed that one guy to show the work ethic every single day, so I took on that initiative of that role.”
Lee got to work in the weight room with strength coach Brendon Ziegler (He wasn’t the only one. Justin Edler-Davis and Justin McCall also made big enough strides there to earn recognition from Barnes and teammates).
After practices, Lee began running about 10 times up-and-down the court at full speed. He didn’t want to do too much, but enough to make a difference over time.
“That dude is so strong,” sophomore guard Jarkel Joiner said. “I don’t even like to play fight with him. He’s so strong. He got in the weight room. He’s a beast. He’s an animal.”
Lee’s diet shifted to a “pro style approach.” He read up on Russell Westbrook’s eating habits and made adjustments. Lee now focuses on chicken, salmon, quesadillas and pasta.
His favorite dish is his shrimp alfredo. He makes it every Tuesday and Thursday. Lee’s so familiar with it, that it takes only about 20 minutes to make (it used to take 30 or 40). Most of the food he makes he’s willing to share with teammates, but the shrimp alfredo he keeps to himself.
There were plenty of instances where Lee didn’t want to continue with the lifestyle changes, which is when assistant coach Mike Scott would step in.
“One day at a time. It’s not gonna happen all in one day, in one week, in one month,” Lee remembered Scott saying. “It’s a process. It’s a lifestyle. Do it consistently and over a span of three or four months, you’re gonna see changes. And after you see changes and you get a little taste of that, you want more.”
The proof is evident by looking at Lee. Now Barnes is focusing on Lee’s game.
Lee’s been in unfamiliar territory offensively trying to develop post moves for the first time. On defense, though, “there’s no excuse. Just contest everything at the rim,” Lee said.
Five games into the year, Lee has made three starts. He’s averaging 9.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
“Greg has a great upside,” Barnes said. “He has good size. He can shoot the basketball. He’s a good ball handler for his size. He’s now just starting to commit himself on the defensive end.”