Kansas senior guard Svi Mykhailiuk reported for the first day of Bill Self’s Basketball Boot Camp at a svelte 6-foot-8, 207 pounds.
That’s 20 pounds lighter than the 20-year-old Ukraine native weighed at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season.
“I’m trying to stay light-weight this year, so it’s going to help me a lot,” Mykhailiuk said Monday afternoon, several hours after the first of nine up-before-dawn conditioning sessions in the Jayhawks’ practice facility adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse.
“I feel like I’m faster with the light weight. I’m more athletic. It just helps me overall in the game,” he added.
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Mykhailiuk carried 207 pounds during a pair of events this summer. He averaged 12.5 points on 55.3 percent shooting (7 of 17 from three) and 3.3 rebounds a game while logging 18.0 minutes a game during the Jayhawks’ four-game exhibition tour of Italy.
Prior to that, the Team Ukraine standout led all players in scoring (20.4 points per game on 39.5 percent shooting) at the FIBA Under-20 European Championships in Crete. Mykhailiuk chipped in 6.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in seven games. He hit 32.7 percent of his threes while playing 35.7 minutes a game
“Just look out what you eat,” Mykhailiuk said of his key to weight loss. “Be professional. Work out every day. Take care of your body. Just know what you are eating and drinking. No sodas, just straight water every day.
“For example I do eat a lot of salads. I like a lot of green stuff, vegetables. I think that’s the main thing that’s going to help me a lot,” he added.
The lighter weight didn’t necessarily translate to an easy opening day of Boot Camp.
“It’s my fourth one. Boot Camp is hard every year,” Mykhailiuk said of workouts that consist of an hour’s worth of sprints, backcourt touches and defensive slides.
“It’s all about mental toughness. You’ve just got to be mentally strong, know what you are doing and do it right.”
He said junior Lagerald Vick and senior Devonté Graham may have been the most vocal in rallying the Boot Camp rookies on Monday.
“I think everybody was trying to be pretty loud and help each other,” Mykhailiuk said. “I would say all seniors … we’ve got to be louder, more vocal. We’ve got to help the younger guys to learn quicker and we will help them like they are going to help us.”
Mykhailiuk said the Jayhawks had a positive attitude despite an early wake-up call of 5:20 a.m., followed by a 5:30 arrival at the fieldhouse to get taped for the 6:15 a.m. drills.
“Nobody is saying anything wrong,” he said of the first-year Jayhawks. “They are enjoying the process. In the long run this is going to help us win a national championship, Big 12, whatever. Anything, if we want to win.”
He has set some goals for his senior season.
“I would say the main goal is to win a national championship. That’s what we are trying to do,” Mykhailiuk said. “Also win the Big 12. Everything … be a better player and teammate.”
Mykhailiuk — who averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.9 steals while playing 27.3 minutes a game in 36 games last season for 31-5 KU — said reaching the Elite Eight the last two seasons has made the squad hungry for an NCAA title.
“We talk about it,” he said, “because the last two years we were pretty close to the Final Four. This year we’ve just got to get there. We were one step away. We felt we should have been there but we didn’t make it for some reason, so … ”
Boot Camp will continue Tuesday and run through Friday. After two days of rest, the players will congregate again Monday through Thursday next week. Friday, Sept. 29 will be a day of rest before Late Night in the Phog on Sept. 30.
“It’s a great experience,” Mykhailiuk said. “It’s got to get us better, make us feel better, help us with conditioning and help us win a lot of games.”
He said there are no regrets in his deciding to return to KU for his senior season. He entered the 2017 NBA Draft without an agent, ultimately removing his name to compete in college one final season.
“I didn’t talk to a lot of people (back in Ukraine). They just told me, ‘Do whatever is best for you.’ They think … everybody thinks me coming back is a great decision,” he stated.