MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–When you look at Esa Ahmad on the court, the appearance is much different this season. He’s in the best shape of his life and ready to impact this youthful West Virginia basketball team.
“Esa, he’s worked his butt off this summer, junior guard Beetle Bolden said. “Not only to lose weight and get in shape but to improve his game. He’s been in the gym in and out daily and he’s been hitting shots like crazy. It’s starting to show for him out there on the court.”
“Esa, he put in a lot of work over the summer,” junior forward Lamont West said. “He lost a lot of weight and he’s really in shape. So it’s a different Esa.”
For the Cleveland, Ohio native it’s his last hurrah with the Mountaineers and he’s trying to make the most of it.
“It’s my last go around so I just feel like I just got to give it my all,” he said. “We got a good shot this year.”
Hiring new strength and conditioning coach Shaun Brown, has been beneficial to Ahmad.
“I just really listened to Shaun,” he said. “Shaun’s been there and he told me what I needed and what I didn’t need. Shaun has been great with me.”
Between a balanced diet and hitting the gym, the senior forward has dropped weight and has improved his game in hopes of having his best season yet.
While Ahmad has shown flashes of brilliance, he has often been plagued by inconsistency.
Last season the Shaker Heights High School alum missed the first half of the season due to a suspension.
Upon his return, Ahmad averaged 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest.
“Last year I got threw into the fire. I felt good when I came back but I didn’t really stay consistent,” he said. “This year I’m just looking to stay consistent and to win a championship.”
Now it’s up to the 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward to lead the younger players.
“With the things that I’ve been through, I’m going to try and lead the young guys, just show them the things that my seniors showed me,” he said. “Just keep them on the right track and hopefully we can get a championship this year.”
And Ahmad believes a National Championship is an achievable goal with this group.
“We can all play. Everybody 1-15 we can all go,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who we put in, I feel like we are more athletic.”
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS