Thomas Gipson has transformed himself.
Gipson came to the Kansas State men’s basketball team looking like he was ready to play defensive end. It showed on the court too.
Asked to play substantial minutes as a freshman, Gipson often looked tired on the court. And when they played teams with bigger forwards, the conditioning took its toll as he was pushed around and forced into committing fouls.
Now, a year later, Gipson is slimmer, fresher and feels like he’s gained more than he’s lost when it comes to his game.
“I think mentally and physically I got better,” Gipson said. “Coach (Weber) helped me tremendously with my right hand and being more physical under the basket and just making smarter plays.”
Gipson said he peaked at 285 pounds last season, and since Bruce Weber was hired as the new Wildcat coach, he has lost 17 pounds. And he’s not done yet.
K-State coach Jimmy Price made Gipson a personal project, bringing the weight down while improving conditioning and maintaining the strength.
Gipson said the changes have helped him beyond the physical part of this game.
“Physically I feel better, and mentally it makes me feel better that I went from where I was to where I am now,” he said. “And I just have to stay on the path to success.”
Gipson said his areas of needed improvement include working on shooting with his right hand — Gipson is left-handed — and his defensive post work, which he said would be another improvement to his conditioning.
The sophomore started the season at the end of the bench during exhibition play, hardly sniffing the floor in the first of two exhibition games.
Weber said Gipson wasn’t taking care of business, both in practice and off the court, and they limited his playing time as a result. But Gipson reacted well to the message Weber looked to send.
With starting forward Jordan Henriquez missing the last two starts to back spasms, the Wildcats have turned to Gipson for his first two starts of the season. Gipson has responded with two solid performances.
Weber said they most need Gipson to perform in Big 12 Conference play.
“He’s had some pretty good games, off and on he’s had good practices — his big thing will be when we play bigger people,” he said. “He’s got to learn to adjust a little bit, you just cant throw your body in there, you’ve got to get angles, you’ve got to get space, you’ve got to do some different things.”
Gipson knows the Big 12 stretch of the schedule is what tested him most a season ago. But he believes he’s ready for it this time around.
“I think I hit the wall as far as fatigue,” he said. “I was tired, I had put on a lot of weight. It made a difference who I was playing against. This year I’ve lost a lot of weight, I’m running better, I’m ready for the Big 12.”