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A trimmer, slimmer Kennedy Meeks is terrific news for North Carolina

North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks (3) shoots as Providence's Tyler Harris (25) defends during the first half of a second-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Friday, March 21, 2014, in San Antonio
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North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks (3) shoots as Providence's Tyler Harris (25) defends during the first half of a second-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Friday, March 21, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Plagued by inconsistency during his freshman season at North Carolina, Kennedy Meeks believes he has found a way to become less erratic as a sophomore.

The 6-foot-9 forward has shed nearly 50 pounds this offseason, dropping from his playing weight of 317 pounds last season to a more svelte 270 as he goes through summer workouts before his sophomore season. Meeks is hoping to still get down to 265 pounds by the end of the summer.

“People tell me all the time I look great, but I want to feel like I’m great,” Meeks told the Fayetteville Observer on Wednesday. “That’s why I’m still working.

“I don’t have a six-pack yet," he quipped. "That’s my goal.”

If Meeks' trimmed down new look translates into improved stamina, athleticism and consistency, that would be huge for a North Carolina team hoping to find scorers to complement All-American candidate Marcus Paige on the perimeter.

Meeks showed flashes of immense promise as a back-to-the-basket scorer as a freshman but seldom could he string together strong performances in a row. Some nights he'd look like a future star, especially in a 15-point, 13-rebound outing against Iowa State in the NCAA tournament or a 23-point masterpiece against Florida State in February. Other nights he'd play limited minutes and mostly be invisible, not easy for a guy as big as him.

In addition to being able to stay on the floor for longer periods without being winded, shedding weight should also help Meeks compete for rebounds and get more lift as he's trying to finish around the rim. That should make him less reliant on pump fakes and and more capable of going up strong against taller defenders.

Meeks isn't guaranteed a starting job next season, but his back-to-the-basket prowess is a good fit alongside a big man like Brice Johnson who blocks shots and runs the floor well but doesn't have much of a low-post repertoire.

If Meeks remains committed to staying in shape, that could be his position to lose.

For more North Carolina news, visit TarHeelIllustrated.com.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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