Monday, May 11, 2009

Former Jayhawk Wilkes begins acting career

Omar Wilkes began his college career as a KU guard then transferred to Cal after playing sparingly during the 2003-04 season. Wilkes, who has filmed some commercials, worked as an assistant to the production team on the Will Smith movie, “Hancock.” In this December 11, 2005, file photo, he looks for help while pressured by Brandon Rush, second from left, and Julian Wright, as Cal's DeVon Hardin (35) looks to lend a hand.

Omar Wilkes began his college career as a KU guard then transferred to Cal after playing sparingly during the 2003-04 season. Wilkes, who has filmed some commercials, worked as an assistant to the production team on the Will Smith movie, “Hancock.” In this December 11, 2005, file photo, he looks for help while pressured by Brandon Rush, second from left, and Julian Wright, as Cal's DeVon Hardin (35) looks to lend a hand.


The acting bug has bitten former Kansas University basketball player Omar Wilkes.

“I’ve always enjoyed being the entertainer,” said the 24-year-old Wilkes, who on Fridays and Saturdays performs in the comedic thriller, “Eavesdropper,” at the Underground Annex in his hometown of Los Angeles.

“I always have been doing plays going as far back as grade school. I focused all my energy on basketball for a long time. Acting’s always been a passion. Now that my playing days are over, I’ve shifted gears,” Wilkes added.

Wilkes — he played at KU in 2003-04 before transferring to the University of California where he graduated with a degree in Social Welfare in 2007 — is starting to build a nice acting resume´.

Wilkes, who has filmed some commercials, worked as an assistant to the production team on the Will Smith movie, “Hancock.”

“It was a chance to see what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s cool to be on the set with somebody like Will,” Wilkes said.

He also was in one scene in the upcoming movie, “Shrink,” which stars Kevin Spacey.

“I had five words in a scene with Kevin Spacey. It’s a small part that will probably get edited out,” Wilkes said.

As to what he learned working with Spacey, Wilkes said: “That you can’t stare and watch with your mouth open on camera. You’ve got to act like you’ve been there before. It (movie) went to Sundance (Festival) and did pretty well. It’s out in August or September, I think.”

Up next is a trip to Colorado where Wilkes will be filming a trailer for a movie that he’ll help pitch to financiers and also “doing auditions for whatever my agent sends me out on.”

Wilkes satisfies his craving for basketball by playing in a league with fellow actors. He still follows KU’s fortunes — as well as Cal’s — and keeps in touch with former KU walk-on Nick Bahe, who finished his career at Creighton.

“Congratulations on last year’s championship and keep up the great work,” Wilkes said, asked if he had any words to pass on to the Jayhawks.

“I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the Jayhawks. I did catch the (2008 title) game against Memphis. I was in half party-mode, half watching it. When KU was losing at the end, I was trying to not pay attention. Then I saw Memphis strike out at the free throw line and Mario hit the shot.”

Though he graduated from Cal, Wilkes will remain a fan of both programs.

“I put on a KU shirt sometimes when I work out at 24-hour fitness,” Wilkes said. “I’ll hear Rock Chalk chants when I do that. It’s so weird to see a Jayhawk T-shirt in Los Angeles that people will usually say something to me.”


bangaranggerg 10 years, 8 months ago

I wish him success but don't understand why you would write a struggling actors story like he was a home town kid who has made it big. He was a Cali kid who didn't care for Kansas, went back there and found out he didn't care much for Basketball either. Really hoping that tomorrow there is a story about Todd Kappleman buying a hat.

Marcia Parsons 10 years, 8 months ago

Sorry you didn't appreciate the story. I'm always interested in hearing what is going on with former Jayhawks. And I disagree with your statement that he didn't care for Kansas. He just didn't get to play much and wanted to go where he would get more playing time. He obviously STILL cares about Kansas. As for basketball, just because he wasn't equipped to go to the next level doesn't mean he didn't "care much for basketball." I wish him well in his new career. Geez, you must have gotten up grumpy this morning.

NYhawk13 10 years, 8 months ago

I agree with oldalum. Nice kid who got homesick. It happens when you are far away and can only go home a couple times a year for only a couple days...I know from personal experience. Good for him though and I wish him nothing but the best.

chanutejayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Great to hear Omar is doing pretty well. Making it as an actor is probably about as likely as winning the lottery. He sounds like he has a pretty good start though.

Redlandsjhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

I agree oldalum. It's always interesting to check in on former players. Actually I would like to read an article about Todd Kappleman buying a hat.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 8 months ago

Bulletin. Todd just bought a sombrero in Santa Fe, New Mexico......tape at ten!!!

KanKu 10 years, 8 months ago

Omar never acted like much of a basketball player....

rgreene 10 years, 8 months ago

Omar was and still is an absolutely great guy. I saw him on a commercial about six months ago featuring a bunch of celebrities. It was a 'Stand up to Cancer' ad. He stood up behind Jodie Foster in the movie theatre. Here it is, at the 35-second mark ...

I wish him the best with his acting career. He's a born entertainer.

gleece 10 years, 8 months ago

If anyone is interested, I saw that ESPN Classic is replaying the Nov. of '07 KU vs. Arizona game tonight at 8 central.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 8 months ago

Yahoo Sports has just declared Kentucky as the preseason favorite now that Patterson is returning. Gee, I guess a team with two returning potential All-Americans, several National Champion veterans, the national Coach of the Year, a recruiting class ranked 6th while only showing three players, a five star big man transfer and six lettermen who saw considerable PT on a Sweet Sixteen team just doesn't have a chance if the Coach's name is not Calipari.

Depth, chemistry, talent, drive, tradition, confidence, leadership don't stand a chance against the almighty dribble drive, one and done UK offense!!!!

bangaranggerg 10 years, 8 months ago

oldalum, sorry you didn't appreciate my comment. But I disagree that you know enough to disagree. If you give up on basketball before your senior season begins to pursue other interests it's not because you live and breathe the game but project you don't have the stuff to play professionally. And what the heck is the difference between getting homesick and disagreeing with your lot on the team and saying he didn't care for Kansas.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 8 months ago

My point is that in reality the press doesn't know ####. Experience and chemistry combined with talent and dedication wins NC's. Also, let's see how ole Johnboy does against some real teams with real coaches!!

Tim Orel 10 years, 8 months ago

62-38 - don't stop now, not until the clock shows 0:00 (though I can hear the strains of the Rock Chalk Chant).

Rick Arnoldy 10 years, 8 months ago

That "prepticket" stuff doesn't mean cr@p. Quit obsessing with it.

I like hearing stories about Jayhawks. Great to hear about Omar's oppurtunities.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago


Re: Yahoo Sports--Yahoo Sports is to sports analysis, what a single methane molecule is to the known universe


Ever notice that ESPN's broadcast offices are located in Bristol, Connecticut New York City; Seattle, Washington; Charlotte, North Carolina and Los Angeles, California? The location of the broadcast offices correlates pretty highly with the teams and regions ESPN overrates year after year.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 8 months ago

Jaybate, my friend, you couldn't be more right....outside of us midwesterners, no one realizes that the Midwest is what keeps the Less Coast and the Least Coast from falling into the ocean!!

I am totally prejudiced, but I will put this .com site up against any college site in fact, I think we're the preseason #1 choice as well with a lineup of Jaybate, Drgnslayr, LAJayhawk, 100, KUShaw, Lewbowski, as well as a multitude of uber-intelligent, clever Hawks!!!

{actually, I am not sure what uber-intelligent means but it sounds so Jaybatianesque.]

Kent Wells 10 years, 8 months ago


I'll tell you what uber-intelligent means if you tell me what the hell "Jaybatianesque" means!

Rock Chalk

waywardJay 10 years, 8 months ago


By that logic should we expect a Lawrence wing once we start ring title after title up over the next decade ?????

waywardJay 10 years, 8 months ago

The only question in My eyes..... Will he be the most famous Omar by the time is all said and done......

Omar Sharif and Omar Epps.....

Any thoughts ????

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago


Since the other ESPN office locations, excepting LA (UCLA), have never wrung up title after title after title to merit their ESPN offices, I doubt KU winning even ten in ten would alter the situation. Maybe the Midwest would get one, if say, KU/MU/OU/UT began to win rings the way UNC/Duke have at times, but it would probably be put in Dallas, which is just Johnny Reb Lite country and not the Midwest. It would seem ESPN only locates offices within a reasonable weekend drive to an ocean; else how to explain the absense of an office in at least one of the following locations: Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Kansas City, or Aspen?

Come to think of it--if Bzdelik could get CU JUCO in Boulder winning rings, then ESPN probably would put an office in Aspen, or Denver.

Actually, there may be some practical (read budgetary) explanations for not having offices in the midwest.

They figure they have to be in NY/Conn and LA for finance, advertising and superstar access.

They also figure they need offices on the east and west coast to cover sports events across three time zones without having to ask their east coast staffs to stay up half the night all the time to cover three time zones of sporting events. Having offices on both coasts, where they have to be regardless, allows them to cover all three time zones in a normal day's work and saves them from having to foot the cost for staffing an office in the midwest.

Pros in the biz could probably cite other reasons (flight and truck travel times for talking heads and the equipment people?), but I can't.

The problem is: ESPN employees are human and they begin to see the world through the lenses of the places where their offices are located, no matter how much they get out to the provinces. The same thing happens in government propaganda, er, broadcast news. :-)

LAJayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago


umm... ESPN has an entire website devoted to Chicago. It's called ESPN Chicago. Here's the website:

I realize the point was having an office in or around the Lawrence area, but they clearly are interested in covering the Midwest.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago


Thanks for highlighting that they have no office, or staff, in Chi. You made my point. A lousy web page that you could operate from Cucamonga. What would I do without you? :-)

LAJayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Don't believe I was trying to disprove your point. I was merely pointing out how ESPN does cover Chicago sports exclusively; something they don't do for any other city.

You really do get defensive with me don't you? You should take it easy there, buddy. I'm starting to believe all your tension is going to shoot your blood pressure through the roof and give you a heart attack... (insert happy-faced emoticon here).

By the way, are ESPN radio stations that cover regional sports not considered offices? That's an honest question, by the way, not being disagreeable. Those do exist in cities across the US including Kansas.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

Me? Defensive? You jest. High BP? Once I got out of the LA traffice, I never had a problem with that again! Don't you just love going over to Studio City on the Hollywood Freeway? Or over the hump to the SF Valley from Westwood on the 405. Yeah, yeah, I know, everyone tries to take LC whenever they can, but wow, there's no real escaping it anymore.

Regarding the ESPN radio stations (affiliates?), hmmm, let's see, what analogy can I use here?

ESPN radio stations and affiliates around the country probably have about the same impact on the corporate/talking head culture and biases at the flag ship offices that a Shell Station has on Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands.

You really need to explore your feelings about defensiveness, "buddy." You're reading waaaaay too much in. :-)

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