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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ready or not, KU basketball set to kick off another Boot Camp

KU coach Bill Self huddles with the Jayhawks after a Boot Camp conditioning session in this file photo from 2006.

KU coach Bill Self huddles with the Jayhawks after a Boot Camp conditioning session in this file photo from 2006.

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Kansas freshman Josh Jackson has heard the horror stories.

They popped up during his visit to campus before he committed, reared their ugly words once again this summer after he officially joined the Jayhawks’ roster and have brought him to this point in his Kansas career with a certain guarded mindset.

It’s Boot Camp time for the Kansas basketball program, and for players like Jackson, fellow freshmen Udoka Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot as well as transfers Malik Newman, Evan Maxwell and Tucker Vang, that means life is about to get a whole lot nastier.

“I just don’t want to know,” Jackson told the Journal-World this summer when asked about the infamous two-week conditioning adventure that will begin bright and early this morning. “I’ve heard so many things about it and I know it’s gonna be hard and I just have to come mentally prepared and physically prepared. Hopefully I’ll be ready.”

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Jamari Traylor/Instagram Photo

Kansas University’s Jamari Traylor posted this picture of teammate Christian Garrett as a “Dead Man of the Day,” a semi-joking victim of KU’s intense Boot Camp conditioning, on his Instagram account.

Throughout the years, Bill Self’s annual Boot Camp has reduced some of the country’s top players and best-conditioned athletes to exhausted bodies sprawled out on the gym floor. Now in its 14th season at Kansas, the two-week grind that marks the unofficial start of another season has become legendary with current and former players alike.

Junior point guard Devonte’ Graham now has survived two of them. After the first, Graham called it, “by far the hardest thing I’ve done.” However, twice having made it through and equipped with the knowledge of what Boot Camp is all about, Graham said he was prepared to take a certain calmness into the two-week torture test this time around.

“I think I told Malik that,” said Graham, referring to new teammate Malik Newman, a transfer from Mississippi State who sits on the brink of his first encounter with the event. “We were talking about Boot Camp and I told him, ‘No matter who you are, no matter what you do, you’re not gonna be able to condition yourself for Boot Camp.’ It’s just something you can’t condition yourself for.”

From endless suicides, defensive slides, backboard touches and timed conditioning tests to early-morning wake-up calls and team-building exercises, the camp is designed to build both mental toughness and team chemistry through adversity.

Most years, the 60- to 90-minute Boot Camp sessions have kicked off bright and early at 6 a.m., Monday through Friday, with the players still required to attend classes and other team-related activities the rest of each day.

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Kansas University basketball players stretch before going through Boot Camp drills, led by Jeremy Case, front, J.R. Giddens, third from left, and Omar Wilkes, third from right. KU coach Bill Self's Boot Camp, a preseason conditioning and team-bonding program, concluded Friday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Because this year’s group is led by so many returning players, Graham said he thought the team, as a whole, would be better prepared to have the right mindset to attack whatever Self and company can throw at them during the next two weeks.

“We’ll be ready,” Graham boasted.

As for those experiencing it for the first time, Jackson said he would not speak for others, but believed that battling his way through Boot Camp could be one of the more memorable things he accomplishes while at Kansas.

“It’s another milestone for me,” he said. “I know it’s gonna be tough, but I really don’t like things to come easy for me. Whenever something’s tough and I get through it, it does that much more for my mental state.”

Added Graham: “They can say that, but, at the end of the day we’re gonna see.”

Comments

Tony Bandle 5 years, 4 months ago

I agree with Steve. It should be renamed "Puke Camp!!!"

By the way, what exactly is a suicide......it sounds horrific!!...

Joshua Hann 5 years, 4 months ago

Baseline to free throw to baseline to halfcourt to baseline to other free throw line to baseline to other baseline back to baseline....

Eliott Reeder 5 years, 4 months ago

Is it some kind of inside joke at the LJW that you guys run these super out-dated photos on this same story every year? So strange...

Pius Waldman 5 years, 4 months ago

Well Eliott why strange? Remember no pictures available from this season.

Eliott Reeder 5 years, 4 months ago

i realize that, but those pictures are from 10 years ago, not last year... !!!

Tony Bandle 5 years, 4 months ago

I always thought this classic photo transmitted the agony of Boot Camp with the almost comatose Hawk in the foreground. Isn't that Bryan Bechard?

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