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Boot camp serves as valuable leadership experience for Missouri

Sep 19, 2013, 9:00 PM EST

Missouri v Colorado State Getty Images

Whether it’s for the physical conditioning or the teamwork exercises, more college basketball teams have made use of boot camps in recent years. The latest program to jump on board is Missouri, which trained with the Missouri National Guard with an eye towards establishing team leaders after their starting point guard (Phil Pressey) left school for the NBA.

Head coach Frank Haith had a couple players in mind when thinking about possible team leaders, as noted in a story written by Dana O’Neil of ESPN.com. But there was an issue: the three players (Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross) all began their collegiate careers at different schools, with Clarkson sitting out the entire 2012-13 campaign after transferring in from Tulsa.

Ross and Brown played for the Tigers for the first time last season, after transferring from Auburn and Oregon, respectively. Clarkson, meantime, sat out a year ago after leaving Tulsa.

So Haith asked [Missouri National Guard Capt. Brian] Hatcher, who had done a similar program with the football team, to devise an overnight schedule that would be fun for the players but would also challenge those three to take over.

Capt. Hatcher made those three players group leaders, with each of the three groups being required to complete assigned tasks like hauling packs that weighed in excess of 50 pounds and carrying 20-pound poles before spending some time at the firing range. After a good night’s sleep the Tigers were on their way back to Columbia.

Such exercises are good because they essentially require leaders to emerge while also forcing the entire group to work together towards a common goal. With the three possible options for Missouri at the point guard position (Clarkson and freshmen Wes Clark and Shane Rector) having yet to play a game in a Missouri uniform, the Tigers may need to find some unconventional solutions during the regular season.