When his teammates headed to meetings last year, Boise State mens basketball center Kenny Buckner spent extra time on the exercise bike or treadmill.
While his diet used to include fast food, greasy meals, an aversion to breakfast and many late-night snacks, Buckner changed his eating habits smaller, healthier meals beginning earlier in the day and not extending past bedtime.
But Buckner, who has shed more than 40 pounds since arriving on Boise States campus last year, still has one unhealthy habit he cant completely let go of fried chicken.
I was raised by my grandma, so I know how to fry some good chicken. I make it at home, said Buckner, who has added grilled and baked chicken to his diet. Theres something about that crispiness and grease thats awesome.
Even with the occasional piece of fried chicken, the transformation of Buckners body is impressive.
Sarge (strength and conditioning coach Steve Shulz) printed out a picture from when I first got here last summer to where I was in August, and you could see the difference, said the 6-foot-7 Buckner, who now weighs 234 pounds. My body changed. My face. Even my smile looked different.
As one of the Broncos few true low-post options, Buckners conditioning is key to keeping the senior on the court and helping in the paint. A transfer from the College of Southern Idaho, Buckner averaged 8.4 points and 4.6 rebounds last season, his first with the Broncos.
All of a sudden its changed who he is. His motor. He just goes harder every play. Theres more of a consistent effort, third-year coach Leon Rice said. Its not hard-hard-hard and then take a few plays off. Hes multiple efforts on every play and hes not wearing out.
At a recent practice, Buckner, who led the team in field goal percentage at 60.3 percent, was dunking to finish nearly every halfcourt drill something Buckner likely wouldnt have had the stamina to do last season.
Hes a lot quicker, junior Thomas Bropleh said. Hes been working on his moves.
Buckner wants to improve on his rebound totals a big need for the smaller Broncos, who have emphasized rebounding in practice and with locker room messages and better his free throw percentage (57.6 percent).
As the lone senior on a team with 10 freshmen and sophomores, Buckner is also being counted on to provide some leadership. By reshaping his body, he has already shown some.
When you get a guy that is going from a junior to a senior and he shows that much improvement, that really makes you proud because a lot of guys when they get to that level, they think theyre done improving and done learning, and hes been completely opposite, Rice said.
I always want our seniors to go out with a bang and have a great senior year. I think Kenny is setting himself up for that.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444; Twitter: @MurphsTurph