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Now slimmed down, Texas F Dylan Osetkowski trying to play without avoidance

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The former Tulane transfer enters his senior season rejuvenated.

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

The flow is gone now and a new Dylan Osetkowski is ready to work heading into his final collegiate season with the Texas Longhorns.

After transferring from Tulane and sitting out the 2016-17 season, Osetkowski logged a team-high 35.2 minutes per game in his first season at Texas, playing nearly 85 percent of all available minutes. With limited depth in the frontcourt and multiple injuries throughout the team, he was asked to take on a much bigger role than expected. This task took a toll on Osetkowski’s body as the season went on. He looked out-of-shape and tired at certain points in games.

Now, Osetkowski comes in at a more muscular, fit 250 pounds this season. The next-level development of Jericho Sims with newcomers Kamaka Hepa and Jaxson Hayes progressing should help lift the weight off Osetkowski’s shoulders in terms of minutes played.

The steps towards becoming a more athletic and complete forward have been noted by head coach Shaka Smart.

“Dylan had a terrific summer,” said Smart. “He’s really transformed his body and has worked at the areas of the game that he needs to continue to grow and develop in.”

At the Big 12 Media Day, Smart said, “Dylan was on the bike at 6 a.m. in the hotel to make sure his training is where it needs to be.”

Doing extra work like that has been a big key for Osetkowski, as well as working closely with nutritionist Amy Culp.

Developing this kind of work ethic no matter the situation speaks to why Osetkowski is primed for a bounceback season.

However, the efforts during the offseason and preseason practice are only part of the equation. Before the Texas Tip-Off, Smart said that the biggest key for Osetkowski will be managing his body during the season.

While Osetkowski isn’t the typical forward for Smart’s coaching style and system, he brings passionate energy and hustle to both sides of the ball, as we saw last season. Making hustle plays like winning 50-50 balls, getting at it on the offensive glass, and boxing out at all times on the defensive glass can go a long way for the big man this year.

Osetkowski averaged 13.4 points per game on 40-percent shooting with 7.2 rebounds per game last season. One thing he really needs to improve on is his shot selection from beyond the three-point arc. He shot just below 29 percent on 146 three-point attempts as a junior. This sizable amount of attempts was by far the most three-point field goal attempts on the team. Kerwin Roach II was second with 121, so that number should decrease significantly this season with Andrew Jones likely to return eventually and multiple other options at the guard position and in the frontcourt. Osetkowski just needs to play the role of taking quality three-point shot attempts when open.

While his three-point percentage was down, Osetkowski had some breakout games beyond the arc. He shot 7 for 13 from three against Iowa State and 5 for 7 from three against West Virginia. Those clutch performances helped the Longhorns win both games in overtime. That’s the upside for Osetkowski.

With Matt Coleman developing a more complete outside shot and Roach more comfortable working on the ball thanks to his late-season efforts last spring, the pick-and-pop game with Osetkowski is even more of a threat now. Osetkowski excelled in that area at times last season to produce open looks. While he wasn’t able to convert on many of those attempts, he has a consistent shooting stroke that doesn’t lack confidence, which is exactly what you want out of your stretch power forward.

Carrying less weight and playing fewer minutes should help Osetkowski in that regard, as well.

Mount St. Mary’s transfer and skilled guard Elijah Mitrou-Long can learn a thing or two from Osetkowski as a transfer, too. Adjusting to playing real live-action basketball games will be a test for Long after sitting out last season. As one the leaders on this team, Osetkowski can help share his own experiences from that transition.

“Probably most importantly he’s been a terrific leader for our younger guys,” Smart said. “Him and Snoop are seniors now, I think they realize it’s their last go-around and a chance to really leave a mark.”

The leadership role is an intangible element that will help the team, but it won’t be as important as what Osetkowski does on the court.

“He’s done a nice job with his body and I think it’s added a level of confidence — he’s been arguably our best player in practice,” Smart said. “We want Dylan to be a guy that goes after something, as opposed to playing with avoidance... We want him to have fun and attack and go after having a great year.”

Now in better shape, can Osetkowski fulfill his role as a power forward that knocks down threes when needed and position himself as a premier big on a roster that lacks proven depth inside?

We shall see come November, but the trends are heading in the right direction.