Kansas’ 17th-annual men’s basketball Boot Camp is scheduled to end about 8 a.m. Friday in the Jayhawks’ practice gym.
If the 10th and final early-morning conditioning session goes as well as the first nine … the players will receive many pats on the back from KU coach Bill Self and his assistants.
“Boot Camp has been non eventful, a very positive time so far,” said Self on Thursday night at the 12th-annual Coaches Vs. Cancer season tipoff event at the Kansas City Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom.
Self said sophomore guard Ochai Agbaji has performed especially well in early-morning conditioning sprints, backboard touches and defensive slides.
“Everybody has gotten through everything they’ve needed to get through,” Self said, noting, “attitudes have not been good, they’ve been great. They can see the light at the end of the tunnel now,” he added.
He noted that senior center Udoka Azubuike appears to be in the “best shape of his life.”
“Udoka is as hard to guard as anybody in America from 3-feet in. He is a load. He’s really improved a tremendous amount. Even being hurt (last season) he found a way to get better. Silvio (De Sousa) ... I know he’s motivated after not playing last year through no fault of his own. I really think David (McCormack) came on, and we have Mitch (Lightfoot) as well. I like our front-line guys. I think we’ll be versatile. Having them back gives us a lot of things most teams don’t have.”
Self said that overall he feels “energized,” entering the season.
“I am very energized to be on the court,” Self said. “I like the guys. We haven’t done enough (in four hours of practice time a week allowed by the NCAA) to be able to determine if we’ll be very good or not. I do think we have some great pieces and attitudes. The attitudes have been terrific. It’s going to be a fun year. There are question marks along with everybody else this time of year.
“Ours is … can we make enough shots to make sure Doke, Silvio, David, make sure those guys can operate with some freedom. If we can do that we’ll be pretty tough to deal with,” Self added.
Perry Ellis to join KU staff
Look for Perry Ellis to soon be named to KU’s basketball support staff, perhaps as soon as Friday.
Self acknowledged he’s been considering adding Ellis as one of the team’s video coordinators. A news release should be coming soon to report the hiring of Wichita native Ellis.
Ellis, 26, faces several months of rehab following summertime knee surgery. He was injured while playing for KU’s alumni team in Wichita in The Basketball Tournament. Ellis moved to Lawrence a week or so ago to gear up for the rehab work and his work in the basketball office.
Many coaches support Coaches vs. Cancer
Self was one of several coaches in attendance for the Coaches Vs. Cancer event. Others: Missouri’s Cuonzo Martin, Kansas State’s Bruce Weber, UMKC men’s coach Billy Donlon and women’s coach Jacie Hoyt and Ben McCollum, head coach at Northwest Missouri State.
Of the fight against cancer, Self said: “The primary reason all the coaches participate is everybody has been impacted in some way, shape or form, some more than others of course. Anytime you can help create awareness or raise funds for something that will affect each and everyone sometime in their lifetime is important.
“We will get there. There have been unbelievable strides to get there (find a cure). There have been so many affected — families and loved ones — and how it affects their lives overnight, that it is important to do as much as we can to lessen the load for these families.”