VALPARAISO | The blisters on the back of Clay Yeo’s ankles are just one example of how rough the transition from high school basketball to the college hardwood can be.
The much-anticipated Valparaiso freshman class arrived on campus this week for the beginning of summer workouts. The entire roster is back at the Athletics-Recreation Center, including Alabama transfer Moussa Gueye and the five baby-faced freshmen.
Yeo has shined through the early workouts, not that anyone could tell as he limped off the floor following Wednesday’s practice.
“This is a lot tougher than high school, no question,” Yeo said. “We’re all just in learning mode right now and we’re thankful that there are people in teaching mode.”
Bobby Capobianco and Lavonte Dority, both noticeably thinner this summer, are the senior leaders along with Jordan Coleman and the trio has been leading each drill for the last three days. Unlike last season when almost the entire roster was filled with returners, Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew has had to spend more time on the basics this summer, teaching the newcomers the terminology and routines.
“This is a whole different game for us,” Munster native Nick Davidson said. “Everyone is quicker, stronger and faster than what we’re used to. Right now I’m making sure that I’m in the right spots. Everything else will fall into place.”
Yeo and Davidson are just two of the freshmen going through some growing pains along with Alec Peters, Jubril Adekoya and Lexus Williams. All five could be counted on to make an impact this season after the Crusaders graduated their entire starting lineup. Early minutes brings a heightened importance to the summer workouts.
“Everyone knows that we’ll make mistakes,” Yeo said. “It’s how we learn from those. We’re all learning right now and everyone has been really supportive.”
While backyard barbecues and trips to the beach might be on the summer agenda for their former high school teammates, the Valparaiso freshmen wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than sweating in the ARC on a humid morning.
“I love basketball so much that I don’t really care what other people are doing,” Davidson said. “This is where I want to be. It’s an honor to be able to play basketball for a school like Valparaiso.”