Ohio forward Ellis Dozier didn’t always eat his breakfast.
Dozier joined the Bobcats in 2015 and weighed about 20 fewer pounds than he does now. He said he was stronger than he looked, but he didn’t eat enough.
He always skipped meals. Mainly, the most important one of the day.
"I wasn’t really aware of how important eating every meal was,” Dozier said.
During his freshman season, Ohio's director of strength and conditioning, Zach Perkins, forced Dozier to send him a picture of his breakfast every day to prove Dozier was eating.
He eventually learned, and now he doesn’t start his day without his two eggs over medium (a little runny with the yolk), three pieces of bacon, two pieces of sausage and oatmeal.
The strength has come. Forward Doug Taylor said he notices it’s harder to knock Dozier off balance than it used to be.
And more strength will come. Coach Saul Phillips said bodybuilding is one of the strengths of his program.
But Dozier is a work in progress in more places than the weight room.
The blueprint is there. He's 6-foot-8-inches tall and has good enough length and lateral quickness to defend multiple positions, plus the ability to stretch the floor on a good day.
The problem has been consistency. Some days, his shot falls; some days, it doesn’t.
Some days, Dozier can slow the game down in his head and play through the flow of Phillips’ offense; some days, he overthinks and turns the ball over too much.
A major goal of his weight training is to improve his ability to finish through contact. But sometimes he worries about drawing the contact more than finishing the play.
It’s a constant mental battle for Dozier. He desperately wants to increase his playing time (2.3 minutes per game last season), but he doesn’t play well when he tries to do too much.
Patience and a clear head are his best hopes.
“I just try not to put pressure on myself,” Dozier said. “The more I put pressure on myself, the more restricted I play, and the worse I play because I’m more restricted.”
Dozier repeats a popular Phillips sentiment when he’s asked about his development. Phillips often says that everybody finds that magical “it” at a different time.
“It” is consistency. “It” is forcing coaches to find minutes for Dozier. “It” is the blueprint player Dozier wants to be coming to life.
He thinks about “it” all the time. He envisions himself making big plays. His favorite daydream: putting an opponent on a poster.
“I wanna (dunk on someone) a lot,” Dozier said. “And there’s only one way to do that. To get half of what everyone else gets, I have to do twice as much. So to get on the same level as them, then I have to do four times as much.”
Phillips doesn’t know how much Dozier will play this season.
“He’ll get what he earns,” Phillips said. “That’s not really up to me.”
Neither Phillips nor Dozier knows when “it” will come for Dozier, either. But Dozier does know one thing.
He knows to eat breakfast now. And soon, he believes that he’ll be eating on the court as well.
“It’s coming,” Dozier said. “And when it comes, everybody will be on notice.”