At first glance, the inside of the St. Vincent Sports Performance Center, a warehouse-like facility tucked into an industrial park off of I-465 in Indianapolis, looks like a lot of college varsity athletic training centers. There are training tables on one side, state-of-the-art cardio and weight machines lined up in the middle, college banners hanging from the ceiling and, through a doorway, a bunch of female soccer players stretching on a vast expanse of turf. Then you notice the pile of racing slicks in one corner. The tires, it turns out, are not for an agility drill.
Professional pit crews train here, as do race car drivers, NFL players, NBA players, Olympic gymnasts, divers, track and field athletes, high school soccer players, middle school basketball players, rock climbers and weekend warriors of all ages. The most recent additions to this flexing, leaping, sprinting congregation are 10 of this year's NBA draft hopefuls, including Butler's
"Our mission is to make these players into the best players and best athletes they can be," St. Vincent director
A certified athletic trainer, Reiff gets the process rolling by talking to agents and GM's about a player's perceived weaknesses. It might be ball handling, defensive balance, three-point shooting or strength. The staff of a dozen experts, which includes coaches, physical trainers, physical therapists, sports psychologists and a nutritionist, takes that information and then performs a battery of physical assessments. Once the staff knows the players' actual weaknesses, be it a chronically stiff ankle or an inflexible inner thigh, trainers and therapists work on it. "When that player is handed off to the strength coach and the speed coach and the basketball coach, that player is a better athlete," Reiff said. "It's a big process."
The players' day includes a morning session of basketball-specific skill work with coach
St. Vincent isn't the only facility that prepares NBA prospects, but it might be the most comprehensive. "There are a lot of places that do a really good job," said agent
After working on ball handling for 30 minutes daily for the last six weeks, Hayward reports that his handle is much better, "though it still needs a lot of work," he said. "They work you out really hard. And everything you do is tailored for basketball, so it's not like you're just becoming a better weightlifter."
Hayward lives about 10 miles from the center, so he goes home at night. But many of the players stay in a nearby hotel, following meal plans designed to help them gain, lose or maintain weight. While Hayward needs to significantly increase his caloric intake, Patterson needs to maintain his weight while largely cutting out the apple pie, ice cream and banana pudding he is so fond of. Patterson admits that sacrifice has been tough, but his agent,
If things go as expected, both Hayward and Patterson will join St. Vincent pre-draft program alums
Indy car star
After spending several days at the center receiving electric stimulation and other recovery treatments, he was able to race the next weekend. "They are my angels," said Kanaan of the St. Vincent staff. "They fix me when I'm broke, and they help me get stronger when I'm good. It's a very unique place."
One of the side benefits of working out at St. Vincent, says Kanaan, is that you never know who you're going to run into. Last winter he got to know Colts tight end