A bit on the shy side during his freshman year at Kansas University, 18-year-old Ukraine native Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is communicating more freely and fluently this semester.
“I feel better. I’ve been here one year so I know how everything is going, how everything is working. I know the coaches and what they want from me. I know the team. I know how I can help the team,” said the 6-foot-8 shooting guard in a Monday meeting with the media after a session of Boot Camp conditioning.
“My teammates also said my language is getting better. I think of better words,” Mykhailiuk added, smiling.
Proof that English is becoming second nature — instead of a second language to Mykhailiuk — came during Monday’s Boot Camp session.
Svi offered spirited words of encouragement to freshman guard Lagerald Vick, who has never faced anything as tough as an hour’s worth of non-stop conditioning before.
“If someone is not getting in line for the suicides (sprints), like Lagerald didn’t get in line, I just had to get back and push him so he could make it,” Mykhailiuk said.
“Boot Camp is like a team camp. There’s a lot of energy. We are helping each other, pushing to get through it.”
Mykhailiuk’s actions since the end of his freshman season have spoken volumes to his teammates. ‘Svi’ has worked hard on all aspects of his game, including his shooting. He hit 26 of 85 shots last season for 30.6 percent. He made 15 of 52 threes for 28.8 percent.
“I can tell he put in the extra work, unlimited shots throughout the nights,” KU junior point guard Frank Mason III said. In fact, Mykhailiuk welcomed his former youth coach in Ukraine, Maksym Mikhelson of the Chersaky Monkeys, to Lawrence for a monthlong stay this summer.
The two spent a lot of time in the fieldhouse and KU’s practice facility.
“He’s always in the gym, and I can tell. It’s paying off. He’s been working hard since he’s been here (summer of 2014). He’s gotten so much stronger. He’s really improved,” Mason added.
Hard work in the weight room has helped Svi sculpt a new and improved body.
“I weigh 207. Last year I was 190,” Mykhailiuk said of an 17-pound increase in just one year on a college campus. “I’ve gotten more physical, more strong. I can go inside a little bit easier, get body contact, have more contact.”
of an 17-pound increase in just one year on a college campus. “I’ve gotten more physical, more strong. I can go inside a little bit easier, get body contact, have more contact.”
Mykhailiuk, who turned 18 in June, has followed KU strength coach Andrea Hudy’s weight program faithfully.
“I was working out with Hudy every day when the team was in South Korea (winning World University Games in July),” said Mykhailiuk, who was ineligible to play for KU’s team since he’s not a U.S. citizen. “I think I got bigger, stronger. I think I improved a lot, in a physical way.”
And mentally, too.
“Right now I know what we’re doing. Last year I didn’t know what we were going to do. It was a bit stressful,” Mykhailiuk said. “This year it’s kind of easy. You know what you are doing, what to expect.”
Extra hour of rest helps: KU guard Mason is happy Boot Camp drills begin at 7 a.m., not 6, this year.
“I think it helped out a lot,” Mason said of winning gold in Korea. “It shortened our time of Boot Camp, actually. It was supposed to be two weeks. We only do a week because we went to South Korea. Be happy about that.”
Of KU newcomers Vick, Dwight Coleby, Carlton Bragg and Clay Young (Cheick Diallo is being held out as he awaits word on his NCAA eligibility) who are in their first Boot Camp, Mason said: “They are doing great so far. They still have a lot to pick up on. The main thing is they are trying. That’s what coach really wants. They are giving great effort. They’ll get it in the next couple days.”
Vaughn to Spurs: Former KU guard Jacque Vaughn, who was fired as Orlando Magic coach in February, is returning to the San Antonio Spurs in a player-personnel role, Yahoo Sports reported Monday. Vaughn is a former Spurs player and assistant coach.