Royce Woolridge would be lying if he said he wasn't nervous at about 5:30 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 27.
How could he not be? After all, the upperclassmen at the University of Kansas had spent the summer telling the new recruits about how difficult "Boot Camp" was going to be every chance they got.
"From when we first got here, they used to always talk about boot camp and warn us," Woolridge said, a wry smile evident in his voice. "They'd kind of just psych us out."
As the annual two-week conditioning session approached, the freshman from Phoenix considered putting in extra running to prepare. Boot Camp is well-known for its grueling intensity, and he wanted to be ready.
Ultimately, he opted for making sure he was well-rested instead.
"I thought about doing that, but then I realized that Boot Camp is a lot of running," Woolridge explained. "I just tried to get as much rest on my legs as I could, so my legs weren't too tired during Boot Camp. So it wouldn't be even worse."
After several sessions, the 6-foot-2 freshman is practically a Boot Camp veteran. Though the butterflies are gone, it hasn't gotten any easier physically, he noted, but now he knows what to expect.
Still, the workouts are grueling, and it's impossible to single out one, specific drill as the toughest.
"To be honest, the whole thing is hard," he said. "And what's the worst part, you have to keep moving. You never stop moving. You get really fatigued."
It's been a busy summer for Woolridge. In addition to the countless hours spent in the weight room with strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hudy – and on the court playing pickup with the team – the young shooting guard has had to adjust to life in Lawrence, Kan.
Thankfully, his teammates have made the transition easy from Day One, by making Woolridge feel like part of the Kansas family.
"They just take you in, and they're real people," he said. "They just take you in as brothers since you're a Kansas Jayhawk."
Woolridge originally committed to Kansas as a sophomore at Phoenix's Sunnyslope High School, where he earned a reputation as one of the most prolific pure scorers in the country.
It's been more than two years since he made his pledge to Head Coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks, but his patience is about to pay dividends. Now that Boot Camp is here, Woolridge explained, everything is starting to feel that much more real – and "Late Night in the Phog" is just around the corner.
"I can't wait," he said. "I've been waiting to be a part of Late Night ever since I committed to Kansas."