Mitch Lightfoot working on expanding body, shooting range
He moved from Kansas City to Tucson, Ariz., when he was 5, but he grew up in a household loyal to Kansas basketball, so wearing the jersey means a lot to sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot.
Given the makeup of the coming season’s roster, his presence means a lot to Kansas basketball, so the feeling’s mutual.
In introducing Lightfoot to campers before Wednesday’s scrimmage, KU coach Bill Self said Lightfoot would play a “huge, huge role” for the Jayhawks this coming season.
Lightfoot heard Self say that and processed the words at a couple of levels.
“So the Kansas side of me, the little kid growing up in Kansas, that kind of gives you butterflies and stuff like that. You feel excited,” Lightfoot said. “But the Kansas basketball player side of me knows that’s what I have to do and that’s what I came here to do and it’s just another step in the process of getting better and becoming a bigger part of this team and helping us win some games.”
In order to do that, Lightfoot knows his game and body must expand from last season. He’s doing that by “working in the weight room, working on the court, working on my jump shot, stuff like that.”
Lightfoot has been spending quality time in the weight room run by strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hudy.
“Right now I’m 216, 217 (pounds),” Lightfoot said. “By the time the season rolls around I’d like to be in the 223, 224 area, get up around there. Anywhere in the 225 area I’d be happy with. Last year I played at 210, 209. That’s not a Big 12 big man four-man, so eating and lifting with coach Hudy has been big for me.”
Lightfoot feels himself getting stronger, more flexible all the time.
“Last year coming in you get hit and it takes you a couple of seconds to recalibrate and go up again, but now with all the lifting we’re doing, the mobility stuff, we get hit, hit the ground, you go back up,” he said. “So the big thing for me is getting bigger, getting stronger, more body control, stuff like that.”
Strength can be a factor in expanding a player's shooting range, as can putting up more 3-pointers in practice.
“In talking to coach after the season I’m going to have to be able to stretch the floor. As a stretch four that will be part of my game," Lightfoot said. "I also have to be able to guard big guys, like I was guarding Udoka (Azubuike). I’ve got to be able to do both.”
Playing basketball for Kansas means a lot to Lightfoot, who isn't going to cheat himself of playing time by slacking off in any area.