OSU guard Chris Harris Jr.

Chris Harris Jr., seen here at an Aug. 1 open basketball practice, has dropped about 20 pounds since he arrived in Stillwater. DEVIN LAWRENCE WILBER/for the Tulsa World

STILLWATER — Oklahoma State basketball freshman Chris Harris Jr. has made some major changes to his diet since joining the Cowboys, and one of the biggest was leaving Whataburger behind.

The 6-foot-3 guard from Dallas said he loves Whataburger and the honey barbeque chicken strip sandwich was his go-to meal while playing at South Garland High School. Harris has been in Stillwater for about four months now and has only had Whataburger once.

“No more honey barbeque chicken strip sandwiches for me,” Harris said on Monday.

“In high school, I ate whatever I wanted and I was still one of the best players. I know here you have to eat good, you have to sleep good in order to perform at your best.”

After treating the four-star recruit to some bacon cheese fries from Eskimo Joe’s on his official visit, OSU coach Mike Boynton made it clear to him that he was going to need to get in better shape.

“I knew from my official visit,” Harris said. “He said ‘You’re big.’ I was like, ‘Yes.’ He said ‘You’ll never look like this again.’ When I first got here on campus, when we took our pictures, he was like ‘Chris, you’ll never look like this again’ and that’s when I bought in.”

Harris joined the team at around 225 pounds and, according to strength and conditioning coach Jake Manzelmann, he weighed in on Monday at about 204 pounds. Team workouts coupled with his new eating habits have contributed to the 20-pound drop. Harris has sold out on the game plan to become a better player but he says it wasn’t easy.

“The first couple of months it was hard because I really didn’t know what to do,” Harris said. “But then as the months went on, as the days went on I started to see my body transform and I was like, ‘OK, maybe Jake knows what he’s talking about.’ So then I really took it in and started really being disciplined on my body and it changed a lot.”

Boynton gives a lot of credit to Manzelmann and the strength program on helping players manage their weight properly. Boynton’s wife Jenny, who is the sports nutritionist, also has been a major piece to the puzzle, especially for Harris.

“She told me what to eat, what not to eat, what to eat less of, what to eat more of and I bought in,” Harris said. “I thank her for that, too.”

Eating out is no longer an issue for Harris, and his go-to snack after the second team meal is a much healthier option than before.

“After that second meal, you go home and you’re pretty hungry again,” Harris said. “So I just eat a snack, eat fruit, eat a protein thing and just go to sleep.”

The new diet has helped Harris develop on the court. He’s improved his vertical leap and has a better motor, which was showcased on the 22 test. That test is where players have to complete two length-of-the-court-and-back runs in 22 seconds. Harris said there was no way he could have run the 22 test when he first got to OSU, but after being in Stillwater for a few months, he said he thinks he did pretty well.

Boynton has been watching Harris’ game mature since his freshman year of high school. His conditioning level was one of the first conversations he had with Harris in the recruiting process. Boynton said he knows how much basketball matters to Harris so he wasn’t concerned about his ability to commit to whatever was needed.

“It just shows you his commitment level,” Boynton said. “I’m sure he really likes Whataburger. I think he loves basketball a little bit more. …Which again, shows some maturity on his part. Some guys would fight that a little bit longer than he has, but eventually, they all come around.”

Frank Bonner II 918-581-8387

frank.bonner@tulsaworld.com

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Sports Writer

Frank joined Tulsa World as the Oklahoma State University sports writer in June 2019. He is an Indiana native who attended graduate school at IUPUI after receiving his bachelor’s degree at Indiana University. 918-581-8387