News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Athens High graduate Richard Hendrix speaks to reporters Thursday before Alabama begins basketball practice Friday.
Photo courtesy of Becky Hopf
Athens High graduate Richard Hendrix speaks to reporters Thursday before Alabama begins basketball practice Friday.

Slimmed-down Hendrix ready for practice to start

By Josh Cooper 340-2460

On the final day of the Pan-Am games tryouts last summer Alabama's Richard Hendrix felt pain in his knees. When he ran up the court, he also felt tightness in his chest.

Tired and weary by the end, Hendrix did not make the United State's roster. And with 273 pounds on his 6-foot-9 frame, thoughts crept into his head that he needed to make a lifestyle change.

When Crimson Tide coach Mark Gottfried returned from coaching the team, he and Hendrix discussed ways to get Hendrix in better shape. The answer was simple — a picture perfect diet, lots of cardio workouts and lots of water.

"He didn't make that team and one of the reasons was his ability to transfer his energy up and down the floor continually," Gottfried said. "We want him to be good where he can be consistent for longer periods of time. That has been more of the issue with Richard than anything else."

In the first month of school, Hendrix dropped close to 20 pounds, and as Alabama prepares for basketball practice starting Friday, he weighs in at 253.

He said he never ate a lot of junk food and that he always watched his diet, but he never ate completely healthy. Now he eats "only healthy things."

During the first month of school, he woke up at 6 a.m. and went through cardio workouts with strength coach Terry Jones. In essence, he ran more and lifted weight less.

He has gained obvious results.

"He is quicker at driving to the goal and he is quicker overall," said point guard Rico Pickett of Decatur. "You can tell he is more conditioned. It is a big difference."

With point guard Ronald Steele sitting out this season because of knee surgery, Hendrix is the first option in Alabama's offense. Last season he led Alabama with 14.6 points and 8.7 rebounds a game. There are doubters out there, but Hendrix is OK with them.

"It may be a little different this year, playing the underdog role," Hendrix said. "Those are how things look at paper. This is a team that is going to be an underdog. There is one way to go from there, and that is up."

Alabama hoops practice begins

When: Friday

Top players returning: Richard Hendrix, a 6-foot-9 forward, is back after leading the team in scoring (14.6 points a game) and rebounding (8.7). Alonzo Gee, a 6-6 forward, is back after averaging 12.6 points and 5.3 rebounds a game last year when he was the only player besides Hendrix to start every game.

Regular-season opener: Troy in Tuscaloosa, Nov. 9.

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