Oct. 19, 2010

 
   

NORMAN, Okla. -- The word is out that the Oklahoma men's basketball team has been hard at work since the end of last season. Perhaps no OU player has dedicated himself to improvement more than sophomore Andrew Fitzgerald.

A 6-8 forward, Fitzgerald arrived at OU as a freshman in the summer of 2009 weighing 273 pounds. He trimmed down to 258 in time for a freshman season that saw him average 4.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in 15.7 minutes a contest.

Realizing he had to become even smaller in order to have a bigger impact for his team, Fitzgerald endured a strict diet and a rugged training regimen this past spring and summer. The hard work has paid off, as he's down to 226 pounds. He's also reduced his body fat from 23.4 percent to 9.0 percent over the past 15 months.

The result, said Fitzgerald, is a completely different feeling on the court.

"I'm getting up the floor easily," he said. "I'm picking up my feet more, I'm more explosive now."

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His teammates have noticed his determination. They selected the 19-year-old as one of four team captains and voted him, along with junior guard T.J. Franklin, as the squad's co-hardest worker.

Fitzgerald, who showed flashes of big-time productivity last year (he averaged 15.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in back-to-back games against No. 1 Kansas and No. 7 Kansas State), said he's not the only Sooner who's been hard at work. Plenty of others on the team have dedicated themselves to helping OU climb back toward the top of the Big 12 Conference as well.

"The progress is incredible," said Fitzgerald of the team. "We've had nine new guys come in and everybody's locked in, everybody's ready to play. Everybody's ready to prove a lot of people wrong this year."

Fitzgerald has already proven he'll do what it takes to help give his team its best chance at winning.

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The three-minute video in the player above includes a few Fitzgerald practice clips and a brief sit-down interview.