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Canisius basketball's Jermaine Crumpton used offseason to cut down weight

If you haven't seen Jermaine Crumpton in a year, you'd barely recognize him.

Canisius men's basketball's star forward trimmed down by 30 pounds in the offseason, a stark change in such a short time span. With the muscle needed to play big man minutes at the Division I level, it's about as much as he could lose.

"A lot of people around me are asking me, 'How did I do it?' " Crumpton said.

At the end of last year, Canisius coach Reggie Witherspoon met with Crumpton to discuss his weight, which had increased steadily since he arrived on campus. Witherspoon was worried that Crumpton being in the high 260s affected his play on the court and his long-term health.

"I tried to tell him it doesn't get easier," Witherspoon said. "After you graduate from college, typically, you gain 10 pounds every 10 years. So for him, long term, life could be very difficult for him if he's having problems getting to the right weight when he's out here playing basketball every day."

So Crumpton, Witherspoon, and Mike Guzda, Canisius' director of athletic performance, met and put together a plan.

Crumpton, now a senior, spent the summer on the Canisius campus going through daily workouts and lift sessions. The physical work was controlled by the program, but the mental battle of watching his diet was entirely on Crumpton. It didn't help that on the weekends he could easily travel home to Niagara Falls to get a home-cooked meal.

"My mother is a great cook," Crumpton said. "Me having a big appetite, that was the toughest thing for me, trying to pick and choose what to eat."

For the first few weeks, he'd lose a pound a day Monday through Friday and then gain it all back after a weekend at home. Witherspoon called it being in the lost and found aisle.

"We had to get him to believe he could do it first," Witherspoon said. "Once you've been that for a while, people don't see you as being overweight. When you go home, they're like, 'You're fine. You want something to eat? It's getting late. Here's some pizza.' We had to get him out of that."

Jermaine Crumpton shoots a jumper against Niagara University. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Crumpton wasn't oblivious to the problem. He crunched down on sugary drinks and stopped eating past 8 p.m. Whenever he got hungry late at night he'd reach for a protein shake instead of snacking. It got easier once he started to see the pounds come off.

"When you start seeing results, it just motivates you even more," Crumpton said.

Crumpton stayed on the grind, getting as low as 230 pounds before settling at 235, the weight he and Witherspoon had agreed on at the start of the summer. With the body transformation came an added confidence.

"I noticed in shirts and skins he always wanted to be skins," Witherspoon said. "He'd take his shirt off right away. In preseason conditioning, he was always shirtless. You could tell he felt good about what he did."

Crumpton's stats have barely changed from his junior season, when he was an All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference third-team member. He's scoring the same amount of points (15.9 per game) and is averaging about half an assist and rebound more per game. The biggest change is his minutes load, up from 28.4 minutes per game to 32.5. Witherspoon said there's no way he could play that much at 265 pounds.

"And he's being more active at that weight," Witherspoon said. "You can go a little harder. You're not going to get tired."

"People don't really notice how much four minutes is in a game," Crumpton said. "Me being a senior and a leader, it helps us as a group to have me as a leader on the floor more."

Crumpton said he's less sluggish than he was in years past. He can jump higher and defend quicker players. Playing at a lighter weight is also easier on his knees, decreasing pain after games and practices.

His personal achievements have coincided with the Golden Griffins' success as a team, as Canisius sits atop the MAAC with a 7-1 record heading into Saturday's Canal Cup matchup with Niagara.

"I feel like we've got something special going on up here," Crumpton said. "We're No. 1 in the league, and that's cool, but we've got a lot of work to do. We're not done."

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