Last week when Kansas men’s basketball Boot Camp ended, the @KUHoops twitter account posted the team's annual final day team photo. The post-workout photo seemingly got fans excited to see college basketball is coming back among amid the coronavirus pandemic.
What it also does is make fans wonder who all these new faces are.
It’s a wrap ➝ 𝐁𝟐𝟎𝐓𝐂𝐀𝐌𝐏 💪 pic.twitter.com/TvdR4cdvY6— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) October 6, 2020
It is a genuine question to ask for this year's Jayhawks, as four new names participated in their first Kansas men's basketball Boot Camp: Junior transfer guard Tyon Grant-Foster, freshman guard Latrell Jossell, freshman guard Bryce Thompson, and freshman forward Gethro Muscadin.
“I’d say they’ve been doing great,” senior guard Marcus Garrett said during a media availability Thursday. "They’ve been picking up on a lot of topics quick, learning fast.”
Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self attributed the uptick of intensity due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“If your entire team has to quarantine for 14 days, that could set a team back a month,” Self said. “You have absolutely no chance to be successful, as far as from a technical standpoint or from a planning standpoint, because you’ll be out of shape, you’ll have no rhythm.”
The intensity hasn’t seemed to be a problem for the four newcomers, which hasn’t gone unnoticed to Garrett, who is taking up the leadership role of the team.
“They are picking [Self's system] up great,” Garrett said. “I’m trying to lead the best way I know how.”
Grant-Foster has opened the eyes of coaches and upperclassmen the first couple weeks of practice. After an ankle injury slowed him down the first month, Self said Grant-Foster has been on an uptick.
“Tyon coming in is definitely going to be a big help,” junior forward David McCormack said. “He is an athlete, he has size, he has long arms, he can shoot ... if we can get him in the flow in our system things will go very smoothly.”
The biggest adjustment Grant-Foster will have to make is to the level of competition. The Jayhawks' season opener against Kentucky is a major step up from his final junior college game against Dawson Community College.
Coming from a completely different path is five-star freshman guard Bryce Thompson, who Self said has been “absolutely terrific."
Self said Thompson is incredibly bright and has a great feel for the game of basketball but “not, by any stretch, where he needs to be.” However, that doesn't take away from the fact Self views Thompson as one of the most prepared of anybody they’ve had, he expressed that he was very excited about him.
Lightfoot has enjoyed battling with Muscadin, a 6-foot-10 forward, in the paint during Boot Camp.
“We’ve done a good job of teaching Gethro and helping him grow," Lightfoot said. "We’re extremely competitive each and every day. We know what [Self] wants and how he wants it done, and that ability to teach other younger guys is something I think can be valuable to the program.”
Self said he's been impressed with the play of Muscadin and of Jossell. However, he doesn’t really know how that translates in terms of them being part of the rotation.
“If everybody is healthy, then they may not be as big of a need in those respective positions,” Self said.
One aspect that these newcomers don’t get to experience is the traditional acclimation to college life. This caught the attention of Lightfoot, who has been on campus since 2016.
“It is just such a different social environment,” Lightfoot said. “You can’t be out and around other students and socialize and meet new people. It’s rough, but they’re doing a great job.”