CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Keegan Bell made two big changes in the offseason. But one is far more noticeable than the other.
"He's cut that mop off his head," a relieved John Shulman said about his point guard's new-look hair.
"Drazen (Zlovaric) actually does my hair cut, so I don't have to go to anyone," Bell said, of his 6-foot-9, 214-pound teammate-turned-barber. "He makes me look like a little Draz. He's the big guy. I'm the mini-me."
Bell's other big change is far more subtle. That is, unless you take him out to dinner.
"I've always been a really healthy eater, but this summer I just decided to make a change and really commit," he said. "I've always been a really big fan of (NBA all-star) Steve Nash, so I started following his diet."
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Bell knew if he was going to do it, he had to go all in. There was no picking and choosing certain aspects to follow. He isn't on it for a few days and then off. He's all or nothing.
That means if it's processed, boxed up, greasy, fatty or packed with sugar, it's not part of Bell's available menu.
"Just a little bit of meat. Mostly whole foods. No milk, it's almond milk. Nothing has sugar in it. It's all water, basically," said Bell. "Everyone looks at me when I'm eating like I'm crazy."
Bell knows the diet sounds extreme. He admits it took some time to adapt to the "acquired taste" of almond milk, which he described as "a lot more watery than regular milk, but I like it now."
But he is still human, so he does have a weakness or two.
"I'll give myself a cheat day. On Friday's I'll maybe have a Hershey bar or something like that. That's about as crazy as I get," he said with a smile.
He's had to have a few more cheat days than he'd like since returning to school. UTC does have a healthy, all-natural dining option on campus, but anything else that Bell needs for regular in-take can be hard to find on a college student's budget.
"When I was home over the summer and my parents were cooking me organic meals it was lovely, but now you get back hear and I just eat lettuce every day," he said. "It gets boring, but it's the sacrifice."
And with that sacrifice has come quite a reward. Bell has trimmed down and bulked up by including regular workouts and an off-season conditioning program with the UTC wrestling team.
"Keegan looks like Keegan of old. Thank goodness," Shulman said. "He looks like a basketball player. His body looks phenomenal."
Bell's main motivation was last year's 16-16 season. The Mocs shot way too many 3-pointers and struggled getting into the paint and finishing around the rim. As a senior leader, the former Vanderbilt transfer made it his mission to complete his game.
"I was just was really hungry this summer working on my game as hard as I could. I needed to change some aspects, get better at getting into the lane and getting to the rim. In order to do that, you have to be in better shape," he said. "Now I'm more in shape. I never feel fatigued. When I wake up in the morning my recovery is better.
"I just feel like new human being."
The results seem to speak for themselves, though that doesn't necessarily mean any of his teammates are signing up for the "Keegan Bell Diet" anytime soon.
"I've tried to get it onto some of the freshmen, but I don't think they've bought in yet, either," he said with a smile.
Maybe they just haven't tried almond milk yet.