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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Back in town: Fresh off his rookie season, Cole Aldrich entertains campers

Oklahoma City Thunder player and former Jayhawk Cole Aldrich speaks before a large group of participants at the Bill Self basketball camp Monday, June 6, 2011 at Horejsi Center.

Oklahoma City Thunder player and former Jayhawk Cole Aldrich speaks before a large group of participants at the Bill Self basketball camp Monday, June 6, 2011 at Horejsi Center.

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Oklahoma City Thunder center and former Jayhawk Cole Aldrich, left, shows how to palm the basketball to current KU players Thomas Robinson, center, and Elijah Johnson at Horejsi Center on Monday, June 6, 2011.

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Former Kansas player Cole Aldrich runs through some drills with KU assistant coach Danny Manning at the Bill Self basketball camp Monday, June 6, 2011, at Horejsi Center.

Gregarious former Kansas University center Cole Aldrich flashed a big smile as he fielded 15 minutes worth of questions from Bill Self’s 700 basketball campers Monday afternoon in Horejsi Center.

Still missing was the front tooth that popped out in a game against Kansas State way back on Feb, 14, 2009, at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan.

“It makes me look tough,” joked the 6-foot-11, 245-pounder, who just finished his rookie season with the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.

Back on Kansas University’s campus for summer school and to work out with the current Jayhawks, Aldrich answered, “soon,” when asked when he’s finally going to get the tooth replaced.

Aldrich, who has referred to himself as a big kid at heart, was a hit with the campers who, among other things, asked how much he was paid his rookie season.

“Obviously not enough if I’m coming back working camp ... 5,000 cheeseburgers per game,” said Aldrich, who actually made $2,126,520 last season with three years left on his lucrative NBA deal.

Quizzed about what he thought of KU coach Self, Aldrich cracked, “Is coach Self in the room? ... He’s a great coach. He makes you work hard, teaches you things on the court but more importantly off the court, things that make you a better person when you leave here.”

While here playing pick-up basketball this summer, Aldrich figures to guard, and be guarded by, 7-footer Jeff Withey, who is looking for a breakout junior season after not making the rotation a year ago.

“You look at guys around the country in major-college basketball ... guys can pop up in one year. My freshman year, I didn’t play much at all, then my sophomore year I had a big year,” Aldrich said. “He can use the summertime as a springboard into the season to get that confidence and to get better.”

Aldrich will be watching TV with interest on June 23, when KU’s Morris twins and Josh Selby are all expected to be first-round picks in the NBA Draft.

“I think they definitely can be good players. I think they can impact the game,” said Aldrich, who scored 18 points, grabbed 35 rebounds and blocked 18 shots while playing in 18 games for a powerful Oklahoma City team that fell to Dallas four games to one in the Western Conference finals. He also averaged 10.3 points and 8.6 boards in 21 games for the Thunder’s Developmental League team in Tulsa.

“It definitely takes a while to get used to the NBA system. It’s different than the college system, just trying to understand the game and working hard at it,” Aldrich added.

His advice to the KU trio? “To work hard. It’s great to get drafted, but that’s just when the work starts. Once you get drafted, you may be fortunate like myself to get to a really good team or you might go to a team that’s struggling ... work hard and stay positive during the grind.”

He’s been watching closely as former KU teammate Mario Chalmers’ Miami Heat have grabbed a 2-1 lead over Dallas in the NBA Finals.

“Mario is playing really well. He’s made some big shots,” Aldrich said. “He is a key guy for them off the bench to stretch the Mavs’ defense.

“The Finals are exciting,” Aldrich added. “The game last night (88-86 Miami win) ... it could go down any way. It comes down to the fourth quarter obviously ... whoever takes care of the ball and can get a good shot up.”

Camp coming

Aldrich is hosting a camp for boys and girls kindergarten through eighth grade June 27-30 at Olathe Northwest High. Aldrich will be assisted by former KU players Jeff Gueldner, Tyrel Reed and Mark Randall. Registration forms are available at http://www.colealdrich.com/.

Comments

REHawk 2 years, 10 months ago

Cole, you are looking good...just the way I wish to remember you: toothless smiles! Please don't spend so many dollars on dentistry that you can't occasionally retain this appearance. And welcome home to Lawrence. I hope you return often to share who you are with everything Jayhawk. You cherished this site and hoops program from what, grade 6? Just the kind of devoted recruit we need. It took lotsa well earned dollars to pry you loose from a 4th year at the Phog. I am pleased for you and your family that you were so well rewarded. Best of luck with your development. I hope your pro career is as long and lucrative as that of Kirk and Nick. Though not even a lukewarm NBA fan, I will tune in to follow occasionally, wherever you play. You are a terrific ambassador for Jayhawk hoops.

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Ralster Jayhawk 2 years, 10 months ago

Very cool Cole is finishing his degree. A few NBA players took the time to go back and finish (like MJ). Who knows if maybe the Twins, or other 3year-jayhawks like Chalmers might decide to someday-down-the-line? Im not sure I expect Rush to, but it could be a remote possibility for anyone, I suppose.

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ajhk 2 years, 10 months ago

Cole is class. Welcome back big fella.

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William Blake 2 years, 10 months ago

Cole can teach Jeff a few things about basketball in the post.

Let's see... Jeff played in Europe this summer, and now gets to battle Cole for a while. This fall Jeff will get his chance to shine big as a Jayhawk. I've been critical about his performance in the past, and I hope Jeff proves me wrong by dominating the paint and making this coming year another "reloading" year instead of a "rebuilding" year... or how about a "rebounding" year?!

Rock Chalk, Summer Hawks!

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John Liddell 2 years, 10 months ago

btw, I do love our witty banter, even if we rarely agree. It's fun to have the civil arguments. cheers

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John Liddell 2 years, 10 months ago

Hey Kennethst -

Good to hear from you, too. I am so very sporadic on here. Trust me, I read daily, but I've been literally too busy to comment. Well, I could comment more, but since I'm on the road so often, and I hate swype, i don't =)

I'm heading out to Amsterdam in 5 days! Going to be up there with the black crowes, buddies of mine. should be fun. it's their final shows together.

I really do want to make a trip to Scotland. Pack me in your luggage next time?

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kennethst 2 years, 10 months ago

JwLiddell.....I always wonder when you will show up.....you go long stretches without comment,,,,,and then poof! There you are!!

Good to see you.....Do I recall you were doing some traveling in Europe? If you remember....I'm the guy that travels to Scotland often.

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bradynsdad 2 years, 10 months ago

I think it's great that Cole is coming back for his education. Not to mention he will be battling withey all summer. Cole may be riding the bench but he has earned his pay and I bet he can still teach withey a few things he has learned in the pros. It is a good thing for these guys to come back and spend time with our players. The one thing I think about Cole that makes him different than let's say a Xavier or selby is that Cole grew to love this place. Cole was here for three years, which makes it feel more like a home. I don't think you will find any OAD's hanging out at the colleges they played at. I believe that helps self establish more of a family feeling, especially to players that might be just on a simple recruiting visit.

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theend 2 years, 10 months ago

Careful everybody......we have a new KU Sports Thought Policeman on the scene.

GeorgeJHawk will monitor your comments looking for incorrect thought and opinion.

Even though he is a hypocrit....we must all obey his rules and follow his standards.

GeorgeJHawk-KU Thought Police Extraordinaire!!

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theend 2 years, 10 months ago

it's funny that Cole says it makes him look "tough"......I think he is one of the nicest guys around . He's one of these great kids that doesn't let money,fame etc go to his head. I'm glad he played at KU

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William Blake 2 years, 10 months ago

Cole... fix the tooth. You will be a Kansas grad soon, not a Kentucky moonshiner.

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Rian Ankerholz 2 years, 10 months ago

I would love to see the Big A and the Big O together in a photo with their toothless smiles..... except it might look like more an Arkansas backwoods photo. Good luck with the camps, Cole!

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Scott Smetana 2 years, 10 months ago

Too bad the NBA can afford to pay a guy $2.5M to sit the bench. Wrong in so many ways.

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ChicagoJHawk 2 years, 10 months ago

I love Cole but that picture is too f'ing funny!!

That being said, I agree with all the other posters, I too think it's great that he's coming back to Lawrence, giving back to the community and being a good role model. Having lots of our players come back to Lawrence can be great for recruiting too...Anyone have any idea why Paul Pierce never comes back to Lawrence?

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IrishDaddy 2 years, 10 months ago

The Ladies must absolutely Love the toothless look !!!!!!!!!!!!

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doolindalton 2 years, 10 months ago

Cole is on the wrong team. OKC shoots too many jump shots and uses its post players almost exclusively to guard the other team's post. Nick Collision is the 6th option when he plays, the first five being Kevin Durant. Oh well, I am sure Cole enjoys his $2.5 mill a year.

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AsadZ 2 years, 10 months ago

Stuff like this really makes the difference when former players come and give back to the program, players and the community. My respect for Cole has increased by 1000x.

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nuleafjhawk 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm not sure if that missing tooth makes him look "tough" or not, but it definitely makes him more of a "character".

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Jayhawklegacy 2 years, 10 months ago

Great for our program to see guys come back and be positive role models!!!!!!

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jhwk215 2 years, 10 months ago

I don't want him to get his tooth replaced, he looks so goofy and he's a goofy guy! Cole is seriously an outstanding guy and by comming back to Lawrence for all that he is doing this summer makes me so happy.

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