RICHMOND, Va. – They’re seeing a lot less of D.J. Haley over at Five Guys Burgers and Fries these days. The same goes for Extreme Pizza. Alas, Haley has taken his talents to a local grocer.
Haley, a rising junior center for the Rams, is taking fitness and nutrition to heart this summer. Since the end of basketball season, Haley says he’s packed 14 pounds onto his 7-foot frame and now weighs 264. That’s up considerably from his freshman year, when the Palmdale, Calif. native arrived on campus a lanky 220 pounds.
With more heft to throw around, Haley hopes to control the paint next season and beyond.
“As the years have gone on, I’ve found it easier and easier to move people in the post,” Haley, who averaged 3.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season, said. “It helps you with your post moves getting better position.”
VCU Strength and Conditioning Coach Daniel Roose says that Haley burns so many calories a day that he’s not under any restrictions in that regard. But over time, Roose felt Haley’s less-than-stellar eating habits occasionally led to sluggishness practices.
So Haley has cut out his burger binges and most fried foods and substituted pastas and lean meats. It’s not a strict diet as much as it is Haley making smarter choices. He’s going out to eat less and shopping at the grocery store more often. He’s also using an iPhone app recommended by Roose, MyFitnessPal, to track his meals. One handy feature allows the user to scan the bar codes of the groceries he consumes and logs the nutritional information. Roose says that while he’s tried to steer Haley towards healthier foods, it’s been Haley taking charge of his eating program.
“He’s always been like that. He gets it. He sees the whole picture,” Roose said.
In the meantime, Haley has hit the weight room hard this summer. During his freshman season, Head Coach Shaka Smart and Roose wanted Haley to put on weight as fast as possible in order to handle the larger, punishing bodies of college basketball. Haley tipped the scales at 252 pounds at the end of his freshman year, but Roose admits that the weight wasn’t “distributed ideally”.
But with improved eating habits and two years of hard weight training, Haley is beginning to sculpt his physique. During his first summer working with Roose, Haley could do exactly one chin-up, and he weighed around 220 pounds. Last week, Haley managed 19 pull-ups, despite adding more than 40 pounds to his frame.
When he arrived at VCU, Haley had set a weight goal of between 265-270 pounds. Now that he’s essentially reached that range, he hopes to add strength and quickness without sacrificing bulk.
Despite his dietary evolution, Haley admits that some habits die hard.
“I’ve kind of relaxed on Extreme Pizza, but I’m kind of still a regular, I won’t lie.”