The first day of Kansas University basketball Boot Camp proved as rugged as advertised.
“It was probably the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life. High school is nothing compared to the first day of Boot Camp,” said KU freshman walk-on Niko Roberts, a 5-foot-10 guard out of St. Anthony’s High in Long Island, N.Y.
He rolled out of bed at 5:35 a.m. Monday at Jayhawker Towers, woke up roommate Royce Woolridge, then made the short walk to Allen Fieldhouse for 6 a.m. roll call for coach Bill Self’s two-week conditioning program.
“We started with some jump-roping and did some sprints after that,” Roberts, son of former KU assistant coach Norm Roberts, said of the hourlong session.
“The hardest thing he (Self) made us do was probably a figure-eight slide all around the gym — you run, close out, run, close out, slide across halfcourt, run, close out, run, close out, slide and just keep going.”
Roberts — he had three classes on campus that stretched from morning to early afternoon — returned to the fieldhouse at 3 p.m. for an interview, followed by a weight-lifting session.
“The mood is positive,” Roberts said. “Everybody is ready to knock this out. Everybody is taking it seriously. Everybody is ready.”
Roberts might have winced had he listened to his elders discuss Monday’s proceedings.
“No day is easy. Every day is challenging,” senior Conner Teahan said, “(but) the first day ... it wasn’t as bad. It wasn’t extremely intense. It’s kind of one of those things you have to have everybody on the same page, the new guys coming in, so it’s a teaching day. I’m tired. (But) it’s only going to get harder.”
Fellow senior Mario Little echoed: “It was more of a teaching day for us, to explain to the newcomers what was going on. Tomorrow will be ‘get after it.’ Today was not an easy day at all, but coach gave us more of a break to teach. Everybody did well. Nobody struggled. If they did, they didn’t show it. Coach didn’t stop to say guys weren’t going hard. We ran sprints at the end and everybody made it.”
Freshman Josh Selby participated. He has been cleared by the NCAA to attend class and practice, but not yet cleared for participation in games as the organization looks at the point guard’s academic record and amateur status.
“He did all right for not really doing a lot this whole semester,” Little said. “He was tired. He did all right.”
Selby, who is not available for interviews as he waits to be deemed eligible, commented about Boot Camp on Twitter.
“Grind time. Bootcamp. Day One. Kick (butt) :)”
And ... “9 more days fellas. Let’s work. Road to the championship. Love my team.”
Finally ... “It’s way diff than high school. Man the work is so much harder.”
Meanwhile, Teahan — like most players he elected to sleep as long as he could and skipped breakfast Monday (Little had a banana and juice) — believes he’s mentally and physically prepared for his final Boot Camp.
“I feel I came in good shape. I got some conditioning in (last several weeks and in summer),” Teahan said. “I’m not too worried about how I’m going to do. I’m more encouraging the team, trying to make sure everybody does well. Everybody had a good attitude. Coach didn’t get on anybody too much for slacking off, so I think everybody did well.”
Teahan a scholarship player: A former walk-on, Teahan is on scholarship for his senior year of college.
The Jayhawks did not sign a full allotment of 13 players, so the former Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst standout was granted the final, unused grant-in-aid.
“I did receive one. I got informed the last weekend of August,” Teahan said. “Coach told me I earned it and decided it was time for me to be on scholarship, so he gave me one.
“It’s great. I love it,” Teahan added. “I never thought it was a huge deal I didn’t have one in the first place. However, it is nice getting a scholarship and the title. To me the title is more being a ‘Kansas basketball player’ than being a ‘scholarship athlete,’ though.”
Honors: KU’s Marcus Morris has been named first-team preseason All-America by Blue Ribbon Yearbook. He was joined by Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn, Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen, Duke’s Kyle Singler and BYU’s Jimmer Fredette. ... The magazine ranked KU No. 7 in the country, a spot in front of North Carolina. KSU was tapped No. 10, Baylor 16, Texas 18 and Missouri 20. Defending champion Duke was No. 1.