A formerly "fat" kid from Burlington, Ont., has become one of the breakout stars at one of the biggest sporting events in the United States. Brady Heslip, Baylor's sweet-shooting sophomore guard, made a name for himself after a clutch performance in the NCAA tournament's second round last weekend.
Heslip scored 27 points on 9-of-12 three-point shooting in the Bears' win over Colorado, becoming an instant sensation and Twitter trending topic. By the time Baylor takes on Xavier in the Sweet Sixteen on Friday night he will be well known for his shooting prowess — and his unique celebration.
After field goals in the first half, [Heslip] would make a circle with his thumb and forefinger and hold it to his eyes, leaving three fingers in the air. He had flashed a monocle during the regular season before going for the complete set in the Big 12 Championship.
"It started in the Kansas game when I made a 3-pointer in the second half," Heslip said. "I was just feeling emotional, like 'Yeah.' " Then I said, 'Maybe I'll put on my goggles.'" "(Dallas Morning News)
But referees and opponents were not amused by the gesture. Referees gave him a warning at halftime of the game against Colorado. "They gave me a warning. I had to put it away," Heslip said.
The nine three-pointers were a Baylor tournament record and two off the NCAA tournament record. The 27 points were a career high, coming on college basketballs biggest stage.
Heslip's road to March Madness stardom has been long and winding. He initially enrolled and committed to play at Boston College during the 2009-10 season. But then-Eagles coach Al Skinner was fired, leading Heslip to decide to transfer.
"After they fired coach Skinner, I hadn't made any decisions and I was just going to meet with [new head coach Steve] Donahue and see how he felt I was fitting in and what I would be in the system," Heslip said.
After the meetings, Heslip didn't believe he fit into Donahue's plans.
"It was nothing personal or anything like that, I just didn't feel like he had confidence in me to play at that level," Heslip said. "He was going in a different direction and he kind of said he wanted his own players. I just felt after the meetings I had the vibe that it was best for me to move on." (Boston Herald)
[Related: Digging the scene: Baylor now in Sweet 16]
Heslip left Boston College and transferred to Baylor in Waco, Tex., and sat out the 2010-11 season due to transfer rules. But it was during his time off that he committed to getting back into shape and finding his shooting touch.
Heslip was a junk-food junkie. And it hampered his on-court efforts.
Heslip's roommate, Bears forward Quincy Miller, still shakes his head when discussing the transformation.
"I saw the pictures of him when he was fat. He had a couple of extra chins," Miller said. "But you look at the final result ... and Brady shows that hard work pays off."
Heslip (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) has dropped 24 pounds since making a conscious decision to change his diet and workout habits during his time at Baylor. (Vancouver Sun)
The hard work paid off right away. Heslip — who's father was an All-Canadian in university and uncle is former Canadian national team and Toronto Raptors head coach Jay Triano — started 35 games in his first season with the Bears and averaged 10.3 points per game while shooting over 45 percent from three-point range.
"I was overweight, that's just plain and simple what it was," Heslip said. "I needed to get down and I did. And now I'm learning to play at this level." (The Globe and Mail)
Now opponents and the rest of the basketball world are taking notice.