The spring and summer is typically a prime time for Arizona Wildcats players to get their bodies in tip-top shape for the upcoming season. But with the coronavirus crisis preventing them from hitting the gym, they are losing valuable reps.
And according to head coach Sean Miller, nobody could be more affected by it than Christian Koloko, Arizona’s wiry 7-footer.
“My most frustrating part of the COVID-19 is simply him because I know what being here on our campus with Chris Rounds, the nutrition and strength and conditioning program that we were fortunate to have, he might be missing more than anybody,” Miller said in an interview with Brian Jeffries.
“Because just watching how his body changed in the first year he was with us. I mean, these months of March, April, May, June, and then the remainder of the summer, I mean, Christian could come back 240 pounds. Where this year when you watched him he was right at about 220, 215. It still can happen but he doesn’t have the weight room that we have here in [Richard Jefferson Gymnasium] at home. So he’s doing the best he can. We’re in communication with him.”
Koloko otherwise is ahead of the curve in his development. Despite being labeled as a project and three-star recruit out of high school, he was able to carve out a role as something of a defensive specialist for the Wildcats in his freshman season.
The Cameroon native averaged 8.3 minutes across 28 games and was pretty productive. If you extrapolate his numbers over 40 minutes, he tallied 11.5 rebounds and 4.3 blocks, the ninth-best block rate in the country. That also doesn’t account for the number of shots he altered because of his 7-foot-4 wingspan and the pick-and-rolls he blew up because of his lateral quickness.
Koloko’s offensive game was clearly a work in progress, evidenced by his field goal percentage (48.3) and free-throw percentage (35.0), but some improvement will come as he continues to hone his skills and (eventually) add weight to his frame.
It’s all that stands in the way of him becoming a quality Pac-12 starter—and maybe even more.
“Christian was a lot of fun to watch because he gave everything he had to our practices, to our skill workouts, to learning the college basketball game, certainly in our weight room with Coach Rounds,” Miller said. “And he gave us more as a freshman than I could have ever predicted. If you would have saw him as a junior in high school, there’s no way you would have said that he would have played the role at Arizona as a freshman that he did. It’s a real tribute to him and our staff, but also Coach Rounds in his weight room and our conditioning and strength program. So we’re looking forward to getting Christian back.”