With the NBA lockout now over and players getting ready to return to work, one particular player has certainly made the most of his recent time away from the League. Australian Boomer and Milwaukee Bucks Centre Andrew Bogut has just launched Andrew Bogut Basketball, including a state-of-the-art training facility in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
With a full-sized basketball court, extensive gym setup, pool, spa and steam room included, this facility is packed full of everything an elite athlete could need. The facility also has a fully functional shower, laundry and bathroom as well as a Foxtel-equipped lounge to rest those weary feet after a workout. I went to take a look at the facility last week and get a feel for how the pros do it.
Nestled away deep in an industrial estate in Carrum Downs, a suburb of South-Eastern Victoria, a large beacon stands out amongst the bland, factory-filled landscape. At approx two metres in diameter, the Andrew Bogut Basketball logo shines brightly atop what just weeks before would have been seen as “just another building”. Only upon entering the facitilty does one realise what a special place this is and with the paint still drying on the logo, I entered to take a look around.
As soon as I entered the room I was greeted by Andrew’s management who quickly and politely confirmed who I was and checked me off the list of invitees. Seconds later, Andrew came directly across and shook my hand, thanking me for coming down for the launch. He was discussing the upcoming workout demonstration as part of the day’s agenda with his personal coach Luke Sunderland. After some brief introductions, the three of us chatted for about five minutes before Andrew broke away to greet his other guests. Immediately you could sense a real appreciation from Bogut who made sure no one walked through that door without being greeted personally.
Like every Australian basketball fan, I knew plenty about Andrew Bogut from his time with the Milwaukee Bucks, but I wasn’t as familiar with his junior hoops journey as I thought. Over the course of the launch there would be numerous references to his junior exploits, all of which had a particular link to the now completed facility. Once everyone settled, Sunderland took Bogut through a 20 minute workout. This included a number of different exercises focusing on lateral movement, cardio, and varied shooting releases. Bogut worked up quite a sweat during this time, joking with the on-looking media to “join in” whenever we were ready. Once the workout was completed, Andrew disappeared for 10 minutes to shower and freshen up.
On his return, Bogut commenced the guided tour of the facility. Beginning with the basketball court itself, he explained the five year journey that began with frustration, as booking courts, pools and gym equipment often meant three different locations when he would return home from the United States. The concept was simple, he wanted everything he could possibly need to improve his game, fuel and repair his body in the one location. Andrew Bogut Basketball was the answer and over the course of five years, it has become a reality. The floor is specially sprung to help prevent joint and muscle strain while lining the walls of the facility, installed about 15 feet off the ground are framed jerseys ranging from Bogut’s first team in Dandenong to his current Milwaukee Bucks uniform. The jerseys are in chronological order and give the main room the bulk of it’s character.
“When kids come in here to train, they can be inspired by my journey” said Bogut, “they can see that it’s achieveable”.
Walking off the court, we enter another room that features an eight metre pool, spa and steam room. The walls are adorned with framed Drazen Petrovic and Toni Kukoc jerseys, a nice reference to not only great basketballers but Andrew’s Croatian heritage. It’s at this point that you really get a sense that everything is here for an athlete, but there was more to come. As we exit the “recovery room” a large netted curtain is raised courtside, revealing a comprehensive mix of different gym equipment. It’s a short “show and tell” from Bogut on this section as let’s face it, it’s pretty self explainatory.
We move upstairs to a full lounge and kitchen area that again sports multiple pieces of Petrovic and Bogut inspired memorabilia. Bogut also reveals that beyond the back wall this room extends to include a full bathroom and laundry set up. Kids who come to train at the facility are encouraged to train before school and then safely leave their laundry here to be washed, dried and folded by staff. Kids who attend this gym have a solid opportunity to work hard, excel and recover. The clear message here is that basketball is important but no schooling will be missed at its expense. Concluding the walk-through, Andrew sets up for some one on one time with the likes of ESPN and ABC among others. This gives me ample time to discuss the facility with Luke Sunderland who is not only Andrew’s personal coach but also the Manager and Head Trainer at AB Basketball.
Luke’s been involved in basketball for a long time having played since he was 10 years old. He represented Dandenong, Keysborough and Camberwell at Senior Big V level as well as playing for Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada in 2006/07. He has been coaching since 2003 progressing through junior domestic, junior representative, Director of Coaching at representative level to Big V Head Coach of the Youth League. On the individual coaching side, Sunderland has coached at the 5 Star Basketball Camp in Chicago in 2009 and was the Director of the inaugural 5 Star Basketball Camp in Australia this past April. To round out an impressive resume, Luke has been the Head Coach at Hallam Senior College Sports Academy for the past two seasons and an Assistant Coach with the School Sport Victoria Senior Boys team in 2011, which will continue in 2012.
Speaking with Luke soon reveals his true passion for the game. He is well versed in all things NBA, NBL and Euroleague focusing especially on the Aussies that are spread out across the globe. Our conversation zigs and zags between a number of basketball subjects from home and abroad before it’s time again to focus and discuss the facility we’re currently standing in. Like with all hoop junkies, it’s easy to get off-track.
The target audience for Andrew Bogut Basketball is junior representative players who are looking to develop every aspect of their game. There are absolutely no promises made in relation to how far the program can take a player, other than development will occur if hard work is undertaken. Hour long academy sessions will be run from 6:00am through to 8:00am and 4:30pm through to 8:30pm Monday to Friday with Saturday sessions available on request. Open gym sessions are available from 2:30pm-4:30pm Monday to Friday and must be booked in advance.
As Andrew answers questions from varied media about the reasons for developing his elite basketball facility, he continually reverts to the inconvenience that he used to experience when returning home from the US. Hiring courts would be hard enough but then to get access to a pool, steam room or weight room would be difficult to say the least. Once the facility started to take shape, the natural progression was to explore it’s use when Bogut wasn’t in the country. Developing young basketball talent is important to Andrew as he knows the journey from junior to professional back to front. While the equipment available is world-class, there are no promises of NBL or NBA achievement at Andrew Bogut Basketball, it’s simply a place for honest assessment and hard work. Bogut recalls stories of others in the coaching industry who have promised the world and accepted a lot of money from excited parents only to deliver broken dreams to them and their kids in return. Although he doesn’t say it directly, it’s obvious that this is a key subject for Bogut, who has no doubt seen his fair share of scam artists in his time.
When quizzed on the upcoming NBA season, Andrew looks genuinely excited. When asked directly about his health and him entering his “big-man prime” he smiles and states that he feels great, very healthy and ready to go. Watching him work out was a privilege and it has to be said that he showed absolutely no signs of any lingering issues with his surgically repaired arm. Working both sides of the body and throwing down some aggressive dunks didn’t result in giving anything short of 100%.
Overall, the Andrew Bogut Basketball facility is an amazing venue filled with not only the essential tools of the trade but also some distinct character. While Andrew is navigating his way through a compacted and grueling 66-game NBA season, Luke Sunderland will be hard at work developing the young basketball talent that walks through the front door. Andrew will of course visit and contribute throughout the NBA off-season, which will be an invaluable experience for young players
Additional information on the facility can be found on the Andrew Bogut Basketball website here, and the centre is currently open for business, so make an enquiry.
From all of us at Hoop Diary we would like to say a big thank you to Andrew Bogut, Luke Sunderland and One Management for their time and we wish them all the best for 2012.