"When I first got him he was 135 pounds and he was 6-foot-8," said Lockhart. "He was real thin because he wasn't eating much. Then he started eating and now he's 180 pounds. Since the beginning of his 9th grade year he has gained that much weight."
Joniah realizes he needs to gain even more weight. And he's made that a goal of his.
"I need to get stronger," said the talented youngster. "My goal by the end of next year is to be about 220 pounds."
Adding the additional strength will allow him to improve certain aspects of his game - his power moves around the basket and his defense.
"Offensively, I think I need to work being stronger with the ball and on my ball-handling a little more," said Joniah. "I am a shot-blocker but I need to improve my on-ball defense."
According to his coach, the talent, skill and basketball IQ are already in place. The strength and size are the last pieces of the puzzle.
"He's really skilled as far as shooting the ball, his ball-handling, timing his blocks," said Lockhart. "He's also athletic. He's also got good knowledge of the game. He understands what he should do and what everybody else should do on the court. (And) he is a legitimate 6-10.5 who has a 7-footer in his family. His uncle is 7-3.
"The thing with him is once his athletic ability, size and strength join those things I think he will be outstanding.
"The sky is the limit for him."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.