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Utah Jazz: Kyrylo Fesenko is leaner, meaner and fitter

Published: Friday, Sept. 4 2015 5:20 p.m. MDT

Jazz center Kyrylo Fesenko arrived in camp this week weighing only 280 pounds. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Jazz center Kyrylo Fesenko arrived in camp this week weighing only 280 pounds. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — By his own actions, Kyrylo Fesenko got himself kicked out of one of the most exclusive clubs in the NBA.

This week, Fesenko reported to Utah Jazz camp weighing in at 280 (pounds, not kilograms). Showing up so svelte informally disqualifies the 7-foot-1 center from being a member of the NBA's 300-Pound Club with Shaq and Yao.

Good news for training camp.

Bad news for The Training Table and other restaurants between Utah and Ukraine.

Between participating with his national team and working out on his own, Fesenko returned to the Jazz about 25 pounds lighter than last fall. The not-so-big man's body fat percentage also dropped significantly, from 14.4 percent in 2009 to a trimmer 10.3 percent.

The Jazz have noticed.

"This is the best shape, by far, I've ever seen him in," point guard Deron Williams said.

Extra mass isn't the only thing Fesenko has dropped.

Known for his goof-offish tendencies — entertaining for some, but occasionally infuriating for coaches — the 23-year-old is taking things more seriously.

Consider him leaner and meaner, fitter and focused.

"That's definitely the image that I'm trying to show," Fesenko admitted.

But is that the image his sometimes hard-to-please boss is receiving?

"Ask coach," Fesenko said.

Good idea. Coach?

Jerry Sloan admitted with limited praise that the occasional resident in his coaching doghouse has made gradual improvements heading into his fourth Jazz season.

"He's much farther along than when he started here," the Hall of Fame coach said.

"He's got to continue to work on his condition all the time and his concentration to the game, which is something that he's always had a little problem with," Sloan added. "He's a big man and you expect big things out of him."

An undistracted Fesenko has the size and skills to help his team, Sloan believes. And because center Mehmet Okur will begin the season sidelined by Achilles heel rehab, Fes knows the opportunity is there.

"He has to do the work," Sloan said. "If he jackpots around then it's tough for him to get anything done worthwhile."

Toning up (his body) and down (his antics) have both helped Fesenko, Williams observed.

"That (was) part of his problem," the All-Star said. "You get tired, it's hard to hear. It's hard to pay attention when you've got your hands on your knees and you're bending over, and that hasn't happened this year.

"He's in great shape," Williams added. "He looks like he's trying to get some minutes."

Surprisingly to the fitter Fesenko, he's been sore during two-a-days. But he said he "feels pretty good" and can run better.

"The practice is not as hard for me as it used to be," he said.

Fesenko, who signed a one-year, $1.1 million contract Monday, wasn't messing around at camp Thursday.

"No more jokes," he said.

Not for now, at least.

"That's Fes' personality. He's a big kid," Williams said. "He's going to goof around. He's going to try to make jokes, TRY to make jokes.

"He's done a better job this year," Williams added. "He's coming in, (and) I think he's a lot more focused. You'd think he would be because it's a contract year and he's gotta play well."

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