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#STINGDAILY: Physically Fit Freshmen

Oct. 29, 2012

By Matt Winkeljohn, Sting Daily

Chris Bolden looks bigger, and it’s not by mistake. Ask the Georgia Tech freshman shooting guard what he worked hardest on over the summer, and his answer explains.

“My strength,” he said. “I’ve been in the weight room hard.”

The 6-foot-3 guard from North Gwinnett High School isn’t built like a typical shooting guard. He’s not exactly shaped like a nose guard, either, but he’s thick enough to prompt a double take. Think Chauncey Billups. Bolden’s listed weight is 209 pounds. Not so long ago, he weighed more like 190.

His buildup goes back a ways. Soon after the high school season ended, he and his future Tech teammates – fellow freshmen Robert Carter, Marcus Georges-Hunt and Corey Heyward – got busy.

“We actually started working out in April, right after spring break in high school,” he said. “We all live close so we just drove here and worked out in the weight room. We got a head start.”

Once Carter, Georges-Hunt and Bolden enrolled for the second session of summer school, they came under the watch of strength and conditioning coach Mike Bewley. From midsummer on, Bolden may have muscled up more than any player on the team. Heyward, who enrolled in the first session, will miss the season with a knee injury.

The other freshmen are going to play, perhaps a great deal.

“All three of them are physically ready to play in this level, which is unique among freshmen,” said head coach Brian Gregory. “For perimeter players, Chris and Marcus have really good strength. Robert is a strong player as well.”

The Nov. 9 season opener against Tulane will be two weeks from Friday. McCamish Pavilion will officially open that night along with the college careers of Carter, Georges-Hunt and Bolden.

Gregory’s first Tech recruiting class is not ready just yet.

“I’m anxious right now for the season to start, but I know it’s going to take time,” Bolden said. “We’ve got a lot of stuff that we’ve got to learn. Marcus, Robert, Corey and I . . . kind of got to set the tone for the coach Brian Gregory era. Yeah, I’m just anxious for the season to start.”

Bolden, a sharpshooter who set the Gwinnett County career 3-point shooting record with 209 made while playing for North Gwinnett, Norcross and Brookwood High Schools, averaged 19.9 points and 4.5 rebounds as a senior. He made 44.9 percent of his shots.

Gregory and his staff had a better idea what the freshmen could do offensively than defensively before practice began 10 days ago. Work in the weight room has accelerated their progress on both ends of the court.

“Because of the summer skill workouts and the fall, we get a good read on the skills [the freshmen] brought to the table,” Gregory said. “The one thing you never get a read on until they start going up and down the court, 5-on-5, is their basketball IQ in game-speed situations.

“They’re ahead of schedule on that . . . defensively, they’ve gotten better. Because of their intelligence level, they’re able to pick up some things quicker. Sometimes even when [freshmen] know where they’re supposed to be, they get knocked off that spot because they’re not strong enough. That hasn’t happened with these guys.”

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