For incoming freshmen, one of the biggest adjustments that need to be made is gaining the strength necessary to compete on the college level. In high school, most top level recruits can dominate on talent alone. In college, without the strength to handle the grueling demands of an Arizona-caliber player, you'll see kids get tired early into the season.
UA commit Chase Budinger is working hard in the weight room in hopes of being physically ready to play his freshman season. Thanks to trainer Trent Suzuki, Budinger's goals should be met without a problem.
Suzuki, who also trained Chase's sister, Brittanie and brother, Duncan, Jr., has been working with Budinger since the eight grade.
"I'm in charge of everything in the weight room – strength, explosive power, jump training, flexibility, speed, agility and quickness," Suzuki said. "I train him physically but I'm also in charge of the sports psychology aspect. I help keep him focused, motivated and help him make good decisions about everything off the court.
"I'm his mentor. I'm the guy that talks to him about the whole mental/emotional part of sports and life. I also will be putting him through individual basketball work outs. I know what the coaches want him working on and I will be giving him that kind of basketball training."
An expert in his field, Suzuki is known for training basketball stars such as Shaquille O'Neal, Magic Johnson and Karl Malone. With that in mind, it's clear that Budinger is in good hands.
Suzuki has Budinger's future mapped out when it comes to how much he should be weighing at Arizona and in the future.
"Right now he weighs about 200 pounds," Suzuki said. "I want him at 215 solid. We're going to put on 15 pounds of muscle mass. I'd like him to grow another half-inch and I think he has that in him. If he gets to 6-foot-9, I'd want him to be around 220.
"I see him playing between 215 and 225 his whole life. He'll add more man strength as he gets older. Optimally 215 would be a good weight for him. Michael Jordan was probably about 215 and same with Kobe Bryant."
When it comes to both strength and basketball, Suzuki knows where Budinger is at and also knows where he wants him to be,
"Chase needs to increase core strength, work on flexibility, improve his lateral quickness by working on side to side type stuff," Suzuki said. "Also we want to improve his joint strength, especially his ankles and wrists because those were issues this summer. He needs to strengthen his knees as well.
"Basketball wise he needs to work on rebounding. He averaged 12.5 boards a game last year, but he doesn't always crash when shots go up. In Coach (Lute) Olson's system, wings crash like crazy and then bring the ball up the court.
"He needs to have more intensity on his rebounding and on defense he needs to work on spacing and not letting the opponents feet get too close too him. Of course working on his post game would help. He's going to have some mismatches when he plays the two or three and he can run the one too."
One question that UA fans continuously bring is up is how Budinger jumps. A year ago, he was tested at 42 inches and Suzuki feels he can even improve on that.
"He hasn't been at his best in the last 3-4 months," Suzuki said. "His ankle is almost better so we'll test his vertical again soon. I don't see why he can't get to 43 or 44 inches. Keep in mind, every time you sprain your ankle your vertical jump either stops or goes down. We need to do some intensified ankle work with him."
As his mentor, Suzuki is extremely optimistic about Budinger's future. He doesn't see failure as an option and if Suzuki has his way, Budinger will travel a straight road to success.
"The only way he fails is if he goes to the hospital for an extended period of time, gets in trouble with the law or somehow becomes academically ineligible," Suzuki said. "I just have to make sure he stays both physically and academically intact. As his mentor, I'm going to make sure that happens."
-Josh Gershon, Senior Writer
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