Naturally, everyone has a suggestion to change his nickname: "Not-so Big City," "Smaller City," "The Town." Bailey himself even offers "Slim City."
Still Big City, but taking up less real estate
The difference is impossible to miss.
Hashim "Big City" Bailey lost weight. A lot of it.
The University of Massachusetts senior center was listed at 6-foot-10, 275-pounds last year, but college heights and weights are notoriously unreliable. They're often outdated, estimated or simply made up. Bailey was considerably heavier than 275 pounds.
But not anymore.
It's not just his waistline. He's thinner in his belly, his backside, even his face. Everywhere.
Naturally, everyone has a suggestion to change his nickname: "Not-so Big City," "Smaller City," "The Town."
Bailey himself even offers "Slim City."
But what the Minuteman big man accomplished is trivialized by just altering his moniker.
Losing weight isn't easy. Not even for a college athlete. But while Bailey contributed last year, especially as a rebounder, his weight, and more significantly his lack of stamina, limited his effectiveness and ability to stay on the floor.
At the end of last season, UMass coach Derek Kellogg challenged Bailey, who followed him from Memphis to Amherst. The coach set 265 pounds as the desired weight and laid out a nutrition and conditioning plan to make it achievable.
"I told him, if you want to be doing things with the team you have to get to a certain weight," Kellogg said.
During the spring and the fall, when the rest of the team was participating in preseason practice, Bailey was doing conditioning, more running than he'd ever done. He embraced the challenge.
"He did a lot of conditioning, a lot of it on his own. He did extra," Kellogg said.
As the regular season is about to begin, Bailey smiled when asked what the scale was reporting.
"Two-sixty three," he said in his deep baritone voice.
His weight, previously a source of frustration, is a happy topic now.
"Everyone tells me I'm doing good on my weight. I'm proud of that," he said. "It wasn't easy. Coach was telling me all summer: Get this weight down and it will be better for you. I knew I could do it. I feel way better running the floor. I'm moving better on defense. I think it's going to be a big year for me. Everything feels better. I feel great. I'm even walking faster."
He even smiles at his reflection.
"I look in the mirror sometimes with my shirt off and think, 'Damn this is how I used to look in high school,'" Bailey said.
Junior big man Sean Carter, who often guards Bailey in practice, has noticed the difference.
"He's a whole lot different. He's in great shape. He's graduating this year," Carter said. "Everything is paying off for him."
Bailey likes to test drive his new found athleticism. In a layup line in practice last week, Bailey leapt up and did a one-handed dunk, getting his feet higher off the ground than he was capable of last year. He landed in a crouch and bounced back up.
"My hops are coming back," he said. "I'm jumping higher because of the weight loss."
Watching the dunk, Kellogg smiled.
"It's helped his self-esteem. He's walking around with his chin up high," Kellogg said. "I'm happy that he feels good about himself. Having self esteem and feeling confident are a major hurdle in his own life to get him to where he needs to be. He's done well in school. He's really become an integral part of this campus and this program. It's going to help him basketball-wise, but as a person, even more so."
Bailey said he's putting the same dedication toward helping the Minutemen than he did to losing weight.
"I'm seeing the big picture. This is my last year. I'm pushing myself to the limit," Bailey said. "I just want to win. Anything I can do to help my team win. That's what I lost this weight for."