Josh Jones uses three words to describe how far his roommate and Creighton teammate Will Artino has come in the last year.
“Night and day,” Jones said.
The transformation was on display again Thursday night when Artino and Jones teamed up on the Paragus Law squad in the Metro Summer Basketball League.
Artino, a sophomore out of Waukee, Iowa, looks bigger. He said he’s packed on more than 30 pounds to his 6-foot-11 frame in the last year.
He seems more comfortable and confident, too. Those 360 dunks he’s doing in warmups — in neon yellow shoes, nonetheless — are another sign of how far he’s come.
Last summer, Artino said, he was still trying to figure out his role with the Bluejays.
“I learned that you’ve just got to settle into the game,” Artino said. “You’ve got to let it come to you.”
That’s not to say he hasn’t gone all out at improving. Following a redshirt freshman season in which he averaged just more than seven minutes a game, Artino has been working closely with Gregory Echenique, CU’s starting center.
The two have done individual work and one-on-one drills, an aspect that Artino gives heavy credit for his improvement.
“They definitely bang around,” Jones said.
Said Artino: “Greg has some of the quickest feet on the whole team. If you get by him or get one in, you’ve earned it.”
The two have become close friends throughout the process. Shortly after the season, they went on a vacation with Artino’s mother and older sister. It included a drive to Texas and cruise through Mexico.
The highlight of the trip may have been seeing how excited the 6-9, 270-pound Echenique got when Artino caught a shark.
“You should have seen him running down the dock like a little kid,” Artino laughed.
Though his team was blown out Thursday night, Artino still got a look at some high level competition. He battled much of the night with former Nebraska big man John Turek, a professional overseas.
His roommate thinks the best is yet to come for Artino.
“The thing about Will is that he has a lot of upside,” Jones said. “He’s just starting his improvement. He’s so much more focused. He’s recognized what he needs to do to get there.”
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