LSU basketball players describe Will Wade’s boot camp, their “3 days of hell”


BATON ROUGE, La. — Merely mentioning the words “boot camp” to LSU junior guard Brandon Sampson elicits a gag reflex.

“Yuck. Three days of hell, man,” Sampson said. “It’s most definitely the hardest thing I ever did in my life.But I’m glad I have the chance to sit here and say I got through it.”

Before beginning practice last week, new LSU men’s basketball coach Will Wade worked his players through a ringer of conditioning tests he calls “boot camp,” pushing the team to its physical and mental limits. The rules were simple: If you don’t pass boot camp, you don’t get to practice. If you don’t practice, you don’t play.

Luckily for LSU’s depth, everyone who was healthy enough to participate in boot camp passed. Which, if anything, is more of a commentary on the rigorous training program Wade put his players through over the summer than it is on the natural fitness of the team.

When you ask one of Wade’s players to describe their coach in a word, every last one of them will say “detailed.” From stressing exactly where to line your heels up against the 3-point line when setting a screen to following through a motion on the backside of an offensive set, Wade’s schemes reflect his detail-oriented persona. His off-the-court emphases are equally detailed too.

One of Wade’s priorities upon arriving in Baton Rouge was body transformation. He wanted to get his players in the right shape. Guys like Sampson and forward Duop Reath packed on weight, strengthening their presences in the paint. Others such as sophomore guard Skylar Mays lost weight, slimming down to more effectively get up and down the court.

To manage these transformations, Wade mandates weekly weigh-in sessions. Reath, who is up to 244 pounds from around 230 last season, jokingly admitted to some pre-weigh-in cram sessions with a few fistfuls of pizza. After all, the players don’t want to find out what happens if they don’t make weight.

Given the way Wade talks about failure, that’s probably a wise mentality.

“On the court, there’s no choice. People either do it this way or, well, there’s no choice,” Wade said. “Everybody wants way too much choice now. Like, no. This is how it’s going to be done. This is what works. This is successful. Do it. Or there’s consequences. Off the court you have to be a little more understanding, but you set a certain standard. People rise to high standards or they fall to low standards. I tell my staff all the time: What you allow is what you’re going to get.”

Wade isn’t the type of coach who will tolerate failure. Mays said he noticed this as soon as his first individual workout with Wade. Wade is trying to implement what Mays described as a “winning attitude,” making everything from on-court drills to routine weigh-ins competitive. When everything is competitive, everything is about winning. At that point, winning games becomes second nature.

This attitude isn’t single-minded either. Reath said Wade’s detail-oriented approach is communal. If one player is late, for example, the whole team pays for it.

But that doesn’t bother Reath. For one reason or another, Reath seems to enjoy all of this. Even boot camp.

“I say it was fun,” Reath said. “It was fun. It was interesting to see. I felt like if we did that before everything we did, we would’ve struggled with it. But it was good to see everybody did it. I feel like we showed a lot of improvement in our fitness and conditioning.”


The post LSU basketball players describe Will Wade’s boot camp, their “3 days of hell” appeared first on SEC Country.

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