Maybe you’ve seen him around campus. His stature demands attention, and his opponents on the basketball court are forced to notice him. If you have seen him, he’s likely seen you as well. He towers above the crowded campus.
“Little kids will come up to me and they point because they don’t know what to do,” McBride said. “I embrace it. I love it.”
At 6 feet 11 inches tall and weighing about 320 pounds, McBride is the literal big man on campus. Of the more than 60,000 students at UCF, McBride is likely the largest.
But being the biggest is nothing new to the sophomore, who was 5-foot-9 in the fifth grade — the height of the average male.
“At first when I was younger, I didn’t know why I was so big or so different, but then I grew into it and it’s who I am,” McBride said. “I love who I am. I love me.”
McBride signed with UCF out of Starke. He entered the university with a torn ACL, which stole the first 13 games of his freshman season from him. For the first time, his weight became a chief concern for him.
“I just want to be comfortable,” McBride said. “My jersey was really tight last year; I didn’t like that."
His size has given him a platform and a skill. His collective height, weight and strength create problems on the court for even the largest of opponents. In high school he once shattered a backboard with a thunderous dunk over an opponent.
“Justin is not your typical basketball player because of his body type,” said Ben O’Donnell, the team’s strength and conditioning coach. “He has an NFL lineman’s body, but plays basketball and plays at a high level.”
McBride is now experiencing a change in the way he lives his life. His health, diet and fitness are among his chief priorities. Grilled chicken, vegetables and salad are core components of his diet.
“It’s a lifestyle change,” McBride said. “I’ve never worried about my weight as much as I do now. I’ve never been this health conscious. It’s easy to grab a box of chicken, but it’s hard to grab a meal you have to cook on your own.”
McBride has dropped 20 pounds since his freshman season, and plans on cutting 10 more by the start of the upcoming season. He’s even still growing, indicated by the inch of height he gained since last spring.
And he’s never been more comfortable in his own skin.