Zach Randolph heard the whispers.

Supposedly, he would be the face of this past NBA lockout for all the wrong reasons.

With a new four-year contract, his advanced age and critics questioning his motivation, Randolph had been pegged to be fat and off his game when delayed training camps finally began. If anybody was going to revise the role of 1999's Shawn Kemp, it had to be the Grizzlies' 6-9 power forward.

But Randolph sat next to teammate Rudy Gay the other day, bragging about a bet he won after scoring on more than 10 dunks last season. Randolph turned to Gay and confidently asked to up the ante to 20 this time around.

A lean, toned frame and recent YouTube videos of him catching alley-oops suggests Randolph can win that wager, too.

"Me and Shawn Kemp are friends, but he signed a contract, went into a lockout and came back overweight," Randolph said. "I didn't want to be like that."

Randolph is indeed the Grizzlies' poster child for the lockout. He returned as the franchise player, looking like a supermodel, so to speak, thanks in part to University of Memphis assistant Frank Matrisciano.

People call Matrisciano "Hell's Trainer." Matrisciano refers to himself as a life-changer. Count Randolph and everyone around him as true believers.

"There will be some players that come back now who won't be in shape," Randolph said. "You're going to notice. So I was definitely motivated to not let myself go."

Randolph is successfully losing fat and gaining muscle. He's maintained a special diet and gone through strenuous physical workouts. Teammates Tony Allen and O.J. Mayo recommended Matrisciano, who calls his approach to health and fitness "chameleon training."

Matrisciano had Randolph working on an apparatus configured with bars and pipes you'd see at a playground. Picture monkey bars, ropes, steep stairs and a sandbox. The goal was to put in the Finch Center everything Matrisciano utilized outdoors in San Francisco.