Slimmer Parker working to put 1st-year woes in past
AUG 05, 2013 5:26p ET
One-fourth of UCLA's heralded 2012 recruiting class, Parker's contributions were far less than the other three -- Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, and Shabazz Muhammad.
Midway through a season in which he averaged 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds per game, many questioned if Parker would even make it through the regular season as a Bruin or transfer elsewhere.
"I didn't have the year I thought I was going to have last year and a lot was predicated on was I in shape ... and I wasn't," Parker said.
The decision to remain a Bruin wasn't based on Ben Howland no longer being the coach at UCLA. Nor was it based on Steve Alford being named Howland's successor. It was based purely on Wes.
As in new UCLA basketball strength and conditioning coach Wes Long.
"My decision was solely predicated on could he get me in better shape?" Parker said. "Could he work me?
"I was real comfortable with him and his workouts. I felt great and that's really what pushed me back to UCLA."
The UCLA center spent the weekend as a camp counselor at the adidas Nations over the weekend alongside teammates Adams, Anderson, the Wear twins and Norman Powell.
While adidas Nations featured some of the top prep basketball players from around the world, it also included some of the top players in the college game, including Parker.
During the camp, Parker took the floor in games against some of college basketball's best and looked very different than the player UCLA fans watched last season.
For one, he's slimmer. Parker has dropped 25 pounds since being listed at 275 pounds at the end of last season.
It showed on the floor as Parker got up and down the court effortlessly. The same couldn't be said last season.
His workouts with Long are already paying dividends.
"I just worked real hard with Wes," Parker said. "He did a great job with me. We really worked. He really took me under his wing. He really worked me and I really appreciate it.
"He pushed me. He ran me. He got me on the bike. We did it everyday. Any day we could, we did it, sometimes multiple times a day."
Parker has something to prove and now feels equipped to do so.
"I did a lot in high school," Parker said. "I was a McDonald's All-American and all that good stuff but that doesn't matter when you're in college.
"You have to prove yourself all over again."
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