Cleare has already had a different kind of challenge — trying to get in the kind of shape needed to play in the ACC. He said he came to campus this summer weighing a hefty 290 pounds, but lost more than 30 pounds at one point through a twice-a-day cardio program and a diet devoid of fried foods, rice and bread.
"When I came back from the Bahamas, I was like 259, Coach said I was getting too small for my position," said Cleare, who now weighs about 265 pounds. "[Before] I couldn't run up and down the floor that easily. I was struggling. I could still jam the ball. Now my hops are crazy. I can get up and down the floor much easier."
Said Turgeon: "He can now play above the rim."
Though he shares almost the same name as the former NBA superstar — it's actually Shaquille O'Neal Cleare — the Maryland freshman compares his game more with recent Ohio State star Jared Sullinger.
Asked what Maryland fans should expect of him this season, Cleare said, "Physical player down low, doing all the dirty work, basically whatever Turgeon needs me to do."
Said Turgeon: "Our kids love him, the way he dedicates himself. If you [asked] everybody who the hardest worker is, it's a close fight between him and Alex [Len]. Off the floor, doing the right things. The academic people love him, 'He works so hard.' He's one of those kids you hope great things happen to."
Cleare isn't into the hype, the kind that will accompany his former AAU teammates to Kentucky next season.
"People say they are expecting me to do great things," he said. "I just want to work hard and get better. The hype will come later."
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