KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dylan Osetkowski pried open a plastic fruit container, surveyed the contents and just huffed.
“Do they put the worst fruit possible in here?” Osetkowski asked Wednesday with real frustration. “No strawberries, no grapes, no watermelon, no pineapple?”
No pizza, no hamburgers, no junk food, either.
The Texas senior forward spent the entire offseason changing his body, mind and lifestyle. Gone is that long, shaggy hairdo along with about 30 pounds. He looks terrific. Now if Osetkowski can sharpen his long-range jumper and those elbows, the Longhorns may have themselves one powerful power forward.
Osetkowski is now cooking meals at home with his girlfriend and taking tips from the Food Network. When his mom flew into town for last week’s Texas Tip-Off, the pair went to the grocery store for meal prep.
“In the beginning, it was, ‘I can’t eat this. I’ve got to eat that,’” Osetkowski said. “But now, it’s a lifestyle. I know that sounds cheesy, but after you do it for a certain amount of time, it’s just like second nature.”
On Wednesday, assistant strength coach Tyler Janota ordered lunch for the UT contingent at Big 12 men’s basketball media day from Proteinhouse, a fast-casual joint in Kansas City that promises it’s “redefined what it means to eat healthy.” A bag full of rabbit food was delivered to the loading dock at Sprint Center.
Osetkowski had a chopped salad, salmon wrap and that fruit bucket. UT coach Shaka Smart ordered a salmon-based salad called The Sexy. “You are what you eat, right?” guard Kerwin Roach II quipped.
Plenty of Big 12 folks were taken aback by Osetkowski’s leaner look. That included West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.
“He said, ‘Where’d the hair go?’ I said I cut it, where else did it go?” Osetkowski said.
Huggins: “Well, that’s what you were known for.”
Osetkowski: “Yeah, I’m going to be known for my game this year.”
Huggins: “I don’t believe it.”
Yes, Osetkowski said, the two games against the Mountaineers will be circled on his calendar.
“With the focus being on my hair last year, beside the fact it was getting ridiculously annoying to deal with every day, I just want the focus to be on my game and let it speak for itself, which it will,” he said.
Osetkowski transferred to Texas from Tulane and sat out the 2016-17 season. Throughout that year, he and Smart sweated together in one-on-one workouts. The coach got to know Osetkowski far better than he did most players, mostly because of all that practice time.
Osetkowski, who averaged 13.4 points last season, was second on the team in scoring. He also logged 35.2 minutes per game, which was probably too much. He practically won a game against Virginia Commonwealth with a corner 3-pointer, and that became a good spot.
But Osetkowski’s accuracy faded as the season went on, and he started gaining weight. Maybe it was stress from the season, stress from school, who knows? He finished the year hitting 28.8 percent from 3-point range.
“One of the things he takes out of last year is he wants to be in better shape over the course of this entire season,” Smart said. “He knows when the season arrives, there are added stressors and different triggers that can affect his body in different ways. We’re just trying to be really, really proactive with that.”
Take Wednesday, for example. It could’ve been easy for Osetkowski to sleep in and hustle over to Sprint Center for a full day’s worth of interviews. But he and Smart met in the hotel’s workout facility for a 6 a.m. ride on stationary bikes. They logged 40 minutes each.
Back home in Austin, UT strength coach Daniel Roose will be doing cartwheels over this news.
“Pretty sure I can say I’m the only one here who got in a 6 a.m. bike ride with my coach this morning,” Osetkowski said. “So I appreciate him and his work ethic as well.”
Roach said Osetkowski’s conditioning work “has been crazy.” Now, you can find him spending time on the VersaClimber, the treadmill, the pool or just hanging around with Roose.
“He’s actually starting to get a six pack if you could see him without that shirt on,” Roach said. “He took that initiative that he wants to be in tip-top shape and doesn’t want that to be one of his questions as to why he’s not playing well.”
Height and weight listings on a college roster are merely suggestions, not the gospel. Osetkowski was listed at 250 pounds two years ago. Last year, he was listed at 245. Now, he’s again listed at 250. The truth was much higher.
“The first time I got under 250, that just got my mindset in a place like, ‘OK, now I’m in a place where I want to be at,’” Osetkowski said. His low was 248 pounds. “Being light on my feet, I told myself, ‘Look, you’re getting tired, but you just put in all this work to get here. Now push yourself to get even further.’ But I feel great on the court.
Osetkowski worked with assistant coach Darrin Horn to examine where things went wrong last season in the paint. He shot 40 percent from the floor overall and averaged 7.2 boards per game. Realistically, those numbers should be — and can be — higher, he believes.
“Lot of it was being off balance, not playing under control,” he said. “If I play under control, play at my pace, play on my feet, I feel I’m unguardable.”
Teammates certainly sense a different athlete. Guard Matt Coleman III playfully rubbed Osetkowski’s chopped-down mane and said, “He just has a different focus. He wants this to be the best year he has at Texas.
“He wants to be known now for his jump shot and not his hair.”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.