Heads turned opening week when BB4L guard Van Girard stepped into the gym rocking a slimmer physique. After dropping 28 points and dishing out 13 assists in BB4L’s victory over Black Pearls Elite, Girard was named Week 1 Player of the Week and has consistently contributed double-figure scoring to each of his teams’ wins. Although Girard has consistently performed at an elite level at the Drew, there is a notable difference in Girard’s style of play since committing to a healthier lifestyle choice.
Throughout the years, the game of basketball has seen many stylistic changes. From an era dependent on big men to an era of volume shooting and quick possessions, basketball has evolved and the build of an ideal player has changed as well.
In one of its more recent transitions that have trickled down from the pros to universities and amateur leagues is the emphasis on speed and athleticism. In the past, many players could rely on strength and size in the half-court, but with more systems catered to faster and more versatile styles of play, many players have looked to specialists to help them slim down and build a consistent diet. The Drew League, home to many diverse shapes and sizes of athletes, has seen the impact of some of its premier players opting for a leaner lifestyle.
“[My diet and exercise] really helped me because I have a lot more energy up and down the court,” he says. “I hardly get tired. I can take more hits and still get up and keep playing.”
Alongside Girard, players like Vince “Body Snatcher”Camper, the original big guard, and Marcus Williams, a notable pro whose spanned a successful career throughout college, the league and the pros have taken to new lifestyle changes to help provide longevity on the court.
“I just wanted to give myself an opportunity to be at full strength,” says Camper. “I played the last six or seven years heavy.”
“I’m 31 now so it’s like I want to play at high level for as long as I can,” he continues. “I want to be one of the top guys for the next six years, not just a guy. I got a reputation as being one of the top 10 guys in the Drew or what not so I want to stay on that mountain or I want to delay the downfall for as long as I can.”
According to Williams, it was all about his endurance.
“Stamina was big,” he says. “I always played but it was just a matter of how long could I be effective for. And I’ve been effective over a longer period of time now since dropping weight, trying to be in shape and trying to eat healthy while drinking more water.”
The improvements each player has seen in their career has been drastic, but the lifestyle changes to see these improvements have been very simple. Girard, Camper and Williams in their journey to fitness have all targeted their eating habits and nutrition to help ensure their playing careers are as fruitful as possible.
For Girard, minor changes like meal prepping instead of grabbing food on the run has helped fuel his weight loss. Limiting carbs has helped the Body Snatcher go from a big guard to a slim thick guard. Being conscientious of healthier choices such as fruit and vegetables has allowed Williams to see his name get called up to the big leagues.
“It takes more work but it works,” says Girard. “I feel good. I have a lot more energy.”
“I feel a lot better now and I ‘m steadily dropping,” added Camper. “And I feel good and I feel it in my game.”
“I just have more energy,” says Williams. “I used to be groggy during the day and I used to be tired and wouldn’t feel like doing anything and now I catch myself in the middle of the day feeling regular. I don’t take naps. It’s just a big difference.”
With steadfast dieting and exercise, all three players have increased their productivity at the Drew. Girard is more active on the boards than he’s ever been. While Camper is continuing to snatch bodies and assassin souls with his killer hesi, he’s even more agile. Williams has been scoring at ease especially from the three, making him a nightmare to guard.
While basketball has transitioned to a run-and-gun style of play, this transition has also helped illuminate shortcomings players might have been able to hide with size and talent. At some point, basketball will keep transitioning but nutrition will play a critical role in training.
Players can’t grab boards like Girard, snatch bodies like Camper, or score at ease like Williams until they take a critical evaluation of the fuel they’re putting into their bodies. Opting for water instead of Drew-Aid after the games could help you sign a deal with a professional team and Girard, Camper and Williams are proof. It’s not just enough to be skilled and work at the game of basketball. To really be great, players have to take a holistic approach to their training.
“I’m strong. I’m still a big guard,” says Camper. “I guess the regular stuff that comes with my nickname ‘BodySnatcher’ is still there, but now I can fly up and down the court. I move better quicker and I can play at a higher level for longer.”