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Lighter Drisdom Is Bigger Threat

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It might have seemed comical, rotund Utah basketball Coach Rick Majerus telling wiry recruit Tim Drisdom that he needed to drop a few pounds.

But Drisdom, the Downey Calvary Chapel High point guard, didn’t crack a smile, not even later in the company of friends.

Even though he had been a standout as a junior, Drisdom knew that Majerus was right, that he needed to slim down before his senior season to become a complete player.

At 6 feet 3, Drisdom weighed 212 pounds--not exactly enough to set off alarms in the doctor’s office, but enough so that teammates teased him about an extra pocket or two of flab.

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If he was going to match elite college guards step for step, he had to flatten his stomach.

“Mentally, I know what I want to do and I know what should be done,” Drisdom said. “But if you’re not physically prepared to do it, you can’t do it.”

Drisdom started working with a personal trainer last summer and pushed himself to the limit in preseason workouts. When Thanksgiving rolled around, Drisdom pushed back from the table earlier than usual.

Now, heading into his senior season, Drisdom is exactly where he wants to be, at 195 pounds. Many consider the Utah signee the premier small-school player in Southern California, but Villa Park Coach Kevin Reynolds said Drisdom is one of the top players in the region, period.

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“I don’t think the size of his school determines how good a player he is,” Reynolds said. “He’s been well-schooled and he can flat-out play.”

Drisdom hopes his team can build on a season in which it won the Southern Section Division V-AA title and reached the semifinals of the state playoffs. For his part, Drisdom averaged 25 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. The school’s all-time leader in points and assists registered 15 triple-doubles, including a game against Pasadena Poly in which he had 38 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists.

“He’s a point guard who can score at will, but he really makes a good effort to get the other guys the ball,” Calvary Chapel Coach Mark Berokoff said. “That’s always his No. 1 priority, and I think the guys know that.”

The Grizzlies, No. 24 in The Times’ preseason rankings, return four of five starters as they make the transition to Division IV-A, which translates to a more difficult road to a state championship.

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Drisdom can feel secure in the knowledge that he is Calvary Chapel’s leader regardless of whether he takes his team all the way. After all, he was the only high school junior last season to win the John R. Wooden Award, which recognizes not only athletic talent, but also excellence in academics and character. Drisdom is an articulate speaker and an honor-roll student.

“This is his team,” Calvary Chapel guard Jonathan James said. “He’s the main player, everything goes through him, and everyone looks at him to get the job done.

“He boosts the energy in the locker room and tells us we need to go hard. You’ll hear him in warmups and everything.”

Drisdom said his college choice convinced two other Southern California standouts--Verbum Dei’s Richard Chaney and Monrovia’s Bryant Markson--to attend Utah. All three players are rated among the top 100 high school seniors, according to several scouting services.

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Now that his weight is no longer an issue, Drisdom said he would focus on improving his defense and scoring ability. He’s already made some headway toward achieving the latter goal.

“He’s really stepped up his scoring and looked to be more aggressive in terms of scoring than he was when he was younger,” Berokoff said. “Before, he could do it but he never put an emphasis on it. He was always pass first, pass second, then shoot. Now he’s more pass first, shoot.”

Drisdom is expected to battle Martin Osimani, now a freshman reserve, for playing time next season at Utah, where he intends to put his lean body to good use. Said Drisdom: “I don’t plan on going in there and sitting down.”


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