Jayhawk fans have heard stories of Bill Self’s “boot camp,” an annual stint of intense physical workouts Kansas basketball players go through to prepare for the upcoming season, but what exactly goes on during the two-week period? Christian Garrett shines a light on what Bill Self’s boot camp actually entails.
Christian Garrett, a former Kansas walk-on that spent four-and-a-half years wearing crimson and blue, is no stranger to Bill Self’s boot camps. He went through four of the them during his Jayhawk tenure, running from spring 2011 through the end of the 2015 season. Garrett, who was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team during his senior season, answered a few questions that we had about the boot camp process.
ROCK CHALK BLOG: “You went through four full boot camps in your time in Lawrence. How did that go, exactly?”
Garrett: “The four boot camps that I was a part of were some of the best moments looking back, and some of the worst moments while going through it. Every year is pretty much the same routine when that time of year comes, but there were actually differences each year.”
RCB: “Was there much of a difference from your first boot camp to your last one? As in, did it get any easier, or did the coaching staff mix it up enough to make sure the challenges kept on coming?”
Garrett: “It definitely got easier every year, minus the boot camp from my senior year, when we had the Navy SEALS come. They are all very similar; as long as we handle our business in the classroom and push ourselves, then we don’t do any extra work. Actually, my freshman year with Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson was the hardest ever, so everything got a lot easier after that! That year, we were late to a lot of classes, and we ran for a week straight with [strength coach Andrea] Hudy in the morning before we even started boot camp. But, just as Coach plans and the very idea of boot camp entails, the harder and crazier it is, the stronger and closer we become as a team.”
RCB: “How exactly did boot camp work? The only thing that most Kansas fans know is that it’s early in the morning. How early are we talking, here? Is Coach Self the one pushing you guys through this thing, or is that the work of the assistants? And do you still have regular workouts and strength & conditioning sessions in the meantime?”
Garrett: “Well, to keep some of the mystery, I won’t give all the details! But yes, it’s two weeks, starting at the crack of dawn. Coach Self leads it, but the assistant coaches take turns leading different stations and drills as well. It’s a lot of drills, defensive stuff, teaching, and running. We still have class, and then regular workouts and strength & conditioning in the afternoon, so it is two-a-days all the way.”
RCB: “Just judging by the name, boot camp doesn’t sound fun at all. What are some of the specific drills that take place during it? Are the rumors of 50 suicides every day really true?”
Garrett: “I plead the fifth.”
RCB: “Is the video they showed during Late Night in 2013, when Andrea Hudy says “trash cans have been strategically placed throughout the gym” really true?
Garrett: “Yes, this is true. And in my time there, only four guys used them…”
RCB: “Considering that you did four different boot camps, you certainly shared this experience with a large number of players. Who were some of the names that stood out to you during these camps?”
Garrett: “Kevin Young comes to mind right away. Kevin was the only guy I know who would start off a suicide jogging at first, then full-sprint for the last spring. He would actually win every time by starting last. I’ll humbly throw myself in there – I would kill boot camp (except for my freshman year). Travis Releford could run for days; he never got tired. Frank Mason was great. Evan Manning also comes to mind, because he was able to actually miss a few boot camps because of injuries. Those injuries always seemed to be pretty timely…but that’s neither here nor there!”
RCB: “Anything else you want to add about anything boot camp related?”
Garrett: “KU fans should know that this time period sucks as players, but it actually ends up being one of the most memorable times because a lot of funny stuff happens. We learn a lot about the foundations for our program mentally and defensively, and we draw close as a team. It’s also the most exciting because it means late night and the season are here. I don’t think any other program works as hard as we do at Kansas, and the results show.”
RCB: “In conclusion, how have you been? What have you been doing since your collegiate career concluded?”
Garrett: “I am playing basketball professionally in Europe! I played in Cyprus and Italy last year, and I’m finalizing a deal with a team in the Adriatic League in Serbia. Along with that, I have been working with my family in the music world, and enjoying life in the real world! I’ve been extremely blessed and have grown up a lot! And I’m forever grateful that I got to be a Jayhawk – Rock Chalk!”
To keep up with Christian Garrett, follow him on Twitter at @CGarrett_15.