KU basketball newcomers quickly learning the importance of being locked in during summer workouts

Kansas newcomer Bobby Pettiford tosses a pass to a camper at Washburn head coach Brett Ballard's basketball camp on Wednesday, June 9, 2021 at Lee Arena in Topeka.

During one of the first workouts of the summer, Kansas basketball newcomer Bobby Pettiford watched fellow-freshman Kyle Cuffe Jr. come off a screen, curl into the lane and hit a floater during a drill.

Cuffe came away smiling. But Kansas coach Bill Self had a different reaction.

Pettiford, who has been limited thus far with a banged-up ankle, watched from a distance and recently recalled the moment.

“He wanted it to be a pick and pop,” Pettiford said of Self’s plan for the drill. “But Kyle came off, he paced and he hit a floater. And coach got on Kyle with, ‘That’s not what we’re doing.'”

While it was Cuffe who was at the center of that particular exchange, the interaction, and many others like it, was one of the first welcome-to-Kansas-basketball moments for the large group of newcomers who now call Lawrence home.

Pettiford, who came to Kansas from South Granville High in Durham, N.C., said seeing Self and his assistants stress the importance of every single play in June will only help the group in the long run as they transition to the KU way of doing things.

He also liked it.

“Oh yeah,” Pettiford said. “I want to be a pro, so if that’s what it takes, I’ll do whatever.”

Pettiford said that mindset has been present with all of KU’s newcomers. But he added that being ready for what the days and drills as Jayhawks will be like before they actually get here is tough.

“I don’t think you can,” he said. “Definitely not coming from high school. I wasn’t at no IMG Academy.”

Pettiford’s short time on campus thus far has taught him a couple of key lessons. The first and most important is that when you’re in the gym, you better be locked in.

“The hardest part of the day is definitely 4 to 6:30,” he said. “Coach will be on you.”

While proper execution, attention to detail and max effort often helps keep the attention on someone else in the gym, Pettiford said he already has figured out that everyone gets a turn.

“You’ve got to be mentally OK or he will get under your skin,” he said of Self with a smile. “He’s going to find something.”

The second lesson is that the only person the Jayhawks should be counting on to make sure they’re locked in is themselves.

“They treat you like you’re a grown man,” Pettiford said of his new coaches. “They’re not nagging you about what time you get up and all that. There’s a lot of freedom. It’s pretty much easy going as long as you lock in. But you’re going to be sore.”

The eight Kansas newcomers and a handful of returners are wrapping up their second week of summer workouts and will have one more week to go before Self’s camps get under way at the end of the month.

KU is still waiting on draft decisions from Ochai Agbaji, Jalen Wilson and Arizona State transfer Remy Martin and also is waiting on the arrival of Iowa State transfer Jalen Coleman-Lands.

While the program waits for the full roster to be set in stone, those players, new and old, who are in Lawrence have spent a lot of time working on basketball and team chemistry.

“The age difference is kind of crazy on this team,” Pettiford said. “But everybody treats everybody the same and we all hang out, so it’s cool.”


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