It was the workout video that blew up the internet. And the one that had Kentucky fans dreaming of championship No. 9 coming in April of 2021.
Yes, we’re of course talking about the video that surfaced over the weekend of Kentucky commits Devin Askew, BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke all working out together in Southern California. And according to the man who ran the workout – and all of the player’s workouts in recent weeks – there is plenty of reason for Wildcats fans to get excited.
“I think Kentucky fans are really in for a treat,” former NBA guard, turned trainer Darren Collison told KSR in an exclusive interview. “If I’m excited, I can only imagine how excited they’ll be once the season starts.”
If anyone knows what good basketball looks like, it’s Collison. He is a highly-decorated former player in his own right. Collison played at UCLA during the school’s last great run, making three Final Four’s and playing along future All-Stars like Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook. From there, he carved out a 10-year NBA career where he averaged double-figures in every season he played. When he elected to retire last year, he was a coveted free agent pursued by both of LA’s new super teams, the Lakers and the Clippers.
Instead, Collsion decided to step away from the game at 32. And part of his retirement announcement helps explain how he ended up coaching the high-profile trio of future Kentucky stars. “I receive so much joy from volunteering to help others,” Collison said when he stepped away from basketball last off-season.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 16, 2020
Well fast-forward to the fall, and Collison began his second career (there have been talks he could eventually return to the NBA, but for now he remains retired) as a skills trainer for high school players in and around his Orange County home. That included work with Devin Askew, the future Kentucky Wildcat who lives in the area.
The duo had been working together years now, and it was around a month ago that they hatched a plan to get Boston in on the workouts with them. Clarke joined this past week. Collison explained the decision in a very matter of fact way.
“I know that when I got together with my teammates in the off-season it helped me,” Collison said. “So by the time the season started I was familiar with the player I bonded with in the off-season.”
He continued, turning his attention to Askew, Boston and Clarke specifically.
“I think they’re only doing themselves a good service,” Collison said. “Being at Kentucky it’s highly competitive… So why not get ahead of the curve and make sure that you can get out there and perform at a high-level because you’ve been preparing early.”
While the workouts shown online seemed to be team-centric, focused on creating chemistry between the Askew, Boston and Clarke, as Collison explains it, his program, Pro’s Vision, is much more than that. He explained that for each individual player, he and his staff pull cut ups of a player their game resembles, and then they work on individual skill work for that specific player. What Askew has focused on in training, isn’t necessarily what Boston or Clarke will work on. Or vice versa.
To take it a step further, Collison and his staff have gone so far to break down what John Calipari and Kentucky like to do as a staff, and then implement it into the player’s workouts.
“Every player is different, everything we do, it’s not ‘everyone come in the gym and we’ll do one set thing,’” Collison said. “We talk about the workouts [beforehand] so that when the workout starts, the guys know exactly what we’re trying to get out of each player. And that’s shooting, that’s defense with them, understanding Cal’s system, and making sure they’re on the same page.”
In terms of individually, Collison raved about the three future Wildcats. He said that while he isn’t crazy about comparing high school players to pros – “it’s not fair to either of them,” he says – Askew’s game most reminds him of former NBA All-Star Deron Williams, as a bigger point guard who can get to his spots, knock down shots and get others involved. Collison also raved about Askew’s basketball acumen.
“I see a player that his IQ, is one of the best that I’ve seen, at all levels,” Collison said.
As for Boston, while many others have compared him to New Orleans Pelicans All-Star forward Brandon Ingram, Collison sees more of a Paul George/Kevin Durant type body, as a big wing who can score from all three levels. Collison said that the goal specifically with Boston is to get him more confident finishing his floater in the lane. In the process however, Collison has been blown away by Boston’s skill-level overall.
“He can put the ball on the floor,” Collison said. “He can play in the pick and roll, he can shoot and create any shot that he wants to create. I think he’s going to be a really, really good NBA player down the road. I obviously think he’s going to be a really good college player in our system.”
And finally there is Clarke, the newest to the group, who arrived in California just a few days ago. Collison simply hasn’t spent as much time with Clarke as the other two. But like everyone else who has seen Clarke in person, the former NBA star is blown away by one particular trait with 6-7 wing out of Massachusetts. His athleticism.
“He’s probably the most athletic out of the group,” Collison said. “If not one of the most athletic players in college basketball coming into this year.”
Speaking of blown away, Collison wrapped the phone call with something else he has been impressed by: The way the three, who have never played together in any organized setting, have immediately bonded. It is something that has jumped out to Collison, and a comradery he expects them to bring to Lexington with them.
“In the drills they pull for one another,” Collison said. “And they talk, they joke a lot in their downtime.”
“So I think Kentucky fans are in for a treat. I can only tell you so much, but what people will see, I think they’ll be very, very impressed.”
(For more on Boston specifically, you can download his interview on KSR’s Aaron Torres Podcast, or watch the video below on YouTube)