Shabazz Muhammad slimming down after diet changes

Shabazz Muhammad recently waged his own battle with the “Freshman 15.”

No more Skittles or In-N-Out Animal Style fries for UCLA’s top recruit, whose weight swelled to as high as 235 pounds this fall before he swore off those favorites. Missing practice time and playing time with injuries and an NCAA investigation didn’t help either.

He’s close to around 220 now, helped by a stricter diet he adopted over a week ago. He doesn’t count calories, but has cut out fried foods and sugars. Muhammad said he didn’t change his eating habits even earlier because he hadn’t yet felt the on-court effects of the added weight.

“When I was 235, I was still 11, 10 percent body fat,” he said. “It was this thing where I thought I was just getting stronger. I was getting stronger, but the muscle weight was slowing me down. I need to get leaner, especially playing the guard position.”

Because he didn’t arrive on campus out of shape, Muhammad wasn’t a part of “breakfast club” that helped his fellow freshmen shed weight throughout the summer. He played at 215 when he was in high school, and is now shooting to get back around that mark.

He added that he’s feeling less winded now and is regaining his explosiveness. Against Texas last Saturday, he scored half of his 16 points in the final 12 minutes of the sloppy 65-63 win.

“I couldn’t do much (before), I was so out of shape,” Muhammad said. “Now I can do multiple things on offense and defense, come off screens and stuff like that. I can really see how my game’s going to be if I continue to get in shape.”

Added senior point guard Larry Drew II: “He’s starting to adjust to the style of play. Everything’s starting to come to him.”

Injury note: Kyle Anderson sprained his right ankle in Houston when a Texas player landed on it, but doesn’t expect to miss any time.