Granted, I am in the transition between graduating and starting my “real job” in Seattle but this is something that’s going to take some getting used to.
Let me explain this with a little more context. Close your eyes and transport yourself back to being a kid playing youth sports. Remember how excited you were before games? I mean, even if it was just for the post-game snacks, you were excited.
For the most part, I have carried that excitement every day for the last eight years of high school and college. Always pushing to get better and better. Every. Single. Day. Then all of a sudden… poof.
For the last six weeks, in the break between the regular school year and the start of late-June summer classes, my internal clock has been telling me to wake up and head to the gym. Instead, I wake up with the No. 1 concern being breakfast. Fortunately, I live with former Wazzu hoops walk-on Keaton Hayenga, who really knows his way around the kitchen.
Still, that internal clock is a tough one to shake.
I think fans would be surprised by the daily routines of Cougar basketball players while on break in the weeks before summer school starts.
For me, a typical day at home in Spokane went like this: lift weights in the morning, head home for lunch, go to the gym to get some shots up, come back for dinner, then head for a late-night open gym session at Gonzaga or Whitworth.
And that was coming from the guy who played below-average career minutes and probably ranks as the tallest guy in the last 40 years of Cougar hoops who never dunked in a game.
Every player works out one-to-three times a day when home on break. Dads, brothers, uncles, cousins all take part in the process, and sometimes personal trainers and strength coaches are part of the mix as well.
For the three cornerstones of the upcoming Cougar season — seniors Josh Hawkinson, Ike Iroegbu and Conor Clifford — this year’s break, which ended yesterday with the start of classes, was especially interesting because all had declared for the NBA draft earlier in the year in order to receive feedback from scouts on what they need to improve on.
And as long as they withdrew their names before May 25 (which they all did), they retained their final year of college eligibility.
I recently talked with all three for insight on what the last several weeks have held:
Conditioning, ball moves, ball handling and increasing range and consistency from beyond the arc.
Feedback from NBA scouts:
Josh played very well in front of the scouts and front-office representatives while down in Los Angeles. They love his ability to score in a variety of ways but want to see him improve his agility and increase his range. They also want to see him use more on ball moves as he would likely play a stretch 4 at the next level.
Josh spent most of his summer at home in the Seattle area working out and getting some runs in at UW. He also had the opportunity to go to LA for a week to work out with Integrity Hoops alongside such notables as Damontas Sabonis (Gonzaga), Denzel Valentine (Michigan St.), Georges Niang (ISU), Julian Jacobs (USC), and more.
He’s been working on his conditioning by running up to four miles, three or four times per week. In addition, he’s been working on his ball handling, being more creative with the ball and finishing at the rim with his left hand.
Feedback from NBA scouts:
Scouts obviously love his coast-to-coast speed with the ball and his size (6-2, 195) and strength at his position. They like how he has improved each season and want to see him to continue to score all three ways: getting to the basket with both hands, working on his mid-range, and consistency from 3.
“I wake up, stretch and get some food. Once I do that I run somewhere between 2.5-4 miles. Once I've done my running I work on my ball handling at home, then I rest for a little bit until about 9 pm where I go workout at West Campus High School (in Sacramento) with my brothers.”
Conditioning and agility. He’s also been working on developing more of a mid-range game.
Feedback from NBA scouts: No direct feedback but needs to work on improving his conditioning, agility and mid-range game.
“I’ve just been working out by myself everyday with my dad and my big-man coach. Get to open gym runs whenever I can get to one, and lift everyday."
Brett Boese is a newly minted business/entrepreneurship graduate of Washington State University. He works in Seattle for a firm specializing in venture capital research. Brett played four seasons of basketball with the Cougs. In the last two he appeared in 59 games and shot 36 percent from downtown. In a span of seven games his junior season he canned 17 of 31 treys for an eye-popping 54.8 percent accuracy rate. He will be writing periodically about Cougar hoops over the course of the year.