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Originally published June 24, 2013 at 11:24p.m., updated June 25, 2013 at 07:34a.m.

‘Wow’ factor: Cole Aldrich impressed by Jayhawks

Sacramento Kings player and former Kansas center Cole Aldrich watches as young basketball players have a bit of trouble completing a ball-handling drill on Monday, June 24, 2013, during Aldrich's basketball camp at Olathe Northwest High School.

Sacramento Kings player and former Kansas center Cole Aldrich watches as young basketball players have a bit of trouble completing a ball-handling drill on Monday, June 24, 2013, during Aldrich's basketball camp at Olathe Northwest High School.

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Sacramento Kings player and former Kansas center Cole Aldrich watches as young basketball players have a bit of trouble completing a ball-handling drill on Monday, June 24, 2013, during Aldrich's basketball camp at Olathe Northwest High School.

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Former Kansas guard Tyrel Reed shows a group of campers some proper shooting techniques on Monday, June 24, 2013 during the Cole Aldrich basketball camp at Olathe Northwest High School.

— Cole Aldrich says he has almost felt guilty when scrimmaging against some of the current Kansas University basketball players in recent weeks.

Though he's going into his fourth year in the NBA, Aldrich, a former KU center, says he feels like one of the least-athletic guys in the building.

“It’s just like, ‘Wow.’ They fit right in with the guys in the league (NBA),” Aldrich said of the current Jayhawks. “They all can jump. They can run. That’s going to be a fun season to watch them this year.”

Aldrich — he talked during a break at his Cole Aldrich Basketball Camp held Monday at Olathe Northwest High — said the biggest surprise for him had been the play of 6-foot-9 Memphis transfer Tarik Black.

“He kind of reminds me of (former KU foward) Darnell Jackson. He really does,” Aldrich said. “A guy that’s not necessarily overly skilled, but really works hard. And he’s a big body.

“Darnell didn’t quite like to hit people like Tarik does, but I’ve had a good time going against him. It’s been fun.”

Aldrich also has been playing alongside the nation’s top-ranked recruit: 6-foot-7 wing Andrew Wiggins.

“Obviously, athletically, he’s one of the best. He’d be one of the most athletic guys in the league right now if he was there,” Aldrich said. “Skill-wise, it’s still early. The kid is 18 years old. He just came from high school. How do you expect him to be the next LeBron (James) or the Kobe (Bryant) or whoever? You put a lot of pressure on a kid like that.

“The good thing is, what I’ve noticed so far, is that he works hard. He has a good head on him. He’s a little quiet, shy kid, but I think once the time comes, he’s going to open up and feel more comfortable, and things are going to come, and he’s going to really excel.”

Aldrich has been linked quite a bit to Wiggins recently after the freshman skied for a dunk in a KU summer scrimmage Wednesday at Horejsi Center. Aldrich — the last player back — chose not to challenge the slam, though he has still received some flak on social media from people telling him that Wiggins dunked on him.

“Did I jump? Did I try to go block it?” Aldrich asked with a grin. “It’s a camp game. You get a bunch of kids that are anywhere between the ages of 8 and 16, and all they want to see is dunks. But it was having a good time.”

Aldrich said he hadn’t lost any sleep over the jabs he’s received, saying if he had challenged the shot, there also could have been a risk of injury for both players.

“If it happened in October, I might have tried to go and block it. Who knows?” Aldrich said. “It’s fun. It’s summertime. It’s for the show for the kids.”

Aldrich, who was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets to the Sacramento Kings last season, becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The 6-foot-11 center has been playing pickup games at KU to try to stay in shape, which is important because an interested NBA team could request him in for a workout.

Aldrich finished the season strong a year ago, scoring 12 points in two of his last three games. Over that three-game stretch, he made 13 of 15 field goals (87 percent) and averaged nine rebounds.

“I think the biggest goal for me right now is to get on the court,” Aldrich said. “When I got traded to Sacramento, I was finally able to get out on the court and show I can play still. That’s the biggest thing — just continue to work. Get in a good situation and be with a good group of guys.”

With the NBA Draft coming up Thursday, Aldrich said his advice for KU’s future pros would be to enjoy the experience — and also be ready to wait for success.

“There’s so many good guys in the league that sometimes a little patience is good,” Aldrich said. “I’m learning that. I’ve been working hard the last two years and finally have gotten an opportunity and ran with it.”

Comments

Scott MacWilliams 1 year, 4 months ago

A little confused here, so is Cole without a team?

Or just on the market while still at Sacramento? I can't keep track of who's where, so it would help slackers like me to just have a monthly report on where the Jayhawk alums are in the NBA.

Anyway, Rock Chalk, and how many days till Late Night???

Also, love that picture with Cole trying to help some 3-footers with their between the legs maneuver!!

Jack Jones 1 year, 4 months ago

Wonderful "3-footer" observation ~ guess it's never too early to introduce Big 12 moves.

texashawk10 1 year, 4 months ago

Cole becomes a free agent in about a week. Until July 1, he is under contract with the Kings but the Kings haven't resigned Cole yet because either A) they have no interest in bringing Cole back next season or B) Cole wants to see what other options there are out for him and find a team that is a good fit for him so he can actually get some meaningful minutes in the future.

KansasComet 1 year, 4 months ago

I agree with Cole, no need to risk injury over a camp game.

morrieon 1 year, 4 months ago

Jesse, Cole has played 3 years in the NBA, not 4.

Wooleybooly 1 year, 4 months ago

He was drafted in 2009 right? Would make it 4 years then.

Jack Wilson 1 year, 4 months ago

Nope, he was drafted in 2010 .. right after the UNI loss.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 4 months ago

Although technically still part of the Kings organization till next week, Cole will be possibly looking for his fourth team entereing his fifth year in the League. It is possible, the Kings may resign him but that is not a sure thing at all.

By Big Man standards in the NBA, he's a "tweener" in almost every category []height, strength, athleticism, etc.] I am afraid his long term basketball future may lie in Europe.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 4 months ago

I don't know about that.

I would say that in his 4 years he's developed from no play, to 3rd-string, to by now a capable back-up.

I could see him land in Portland. I could see them trade away Hickson and go with a two-some of that Illini guy they drafted in the 1st round a year or two ago & Aldrich.

KemDooKU 1 year, 4 months ago

Maybe this article will help some KU fans to come down off the Wiggins High - he said all that needed to be said about Wiggins - really gifted but a ways to go before he dominates - these OAD players have all the hype but rarely live up to the expectations put on them by some fans - Selby, Henry

Greg Lux 1 year, 4 months ago

He will provide some wonderful highlights but to ask him to be a dominate scorer is a little much at this stage in his life. I hope fan lighten up on their expectations a little and give the KID a break. Will he be great down the road? ( I hope and expect he will ). Is he great now? ( Probably not that much better then many of the other players in his class. He is just different "Special" in what he can do that others can't do ) But as a scoring machine (Not YET). Rock Chalk

Jeff Kilgore 1 year, 4 months ago

I have to disagree. Wiggins is said to be the best high school player in the last 10 years. If this is true, "a ways to go" doesn't mean anything. Of course he'll make mistakes, but what player doesn't? Selby and Henry were nowhere near Wiggins' talent level.

Benz Junque 1 year, 4 months ago

He said he had a ways to go before he lives up to the James/Kobe hype. Big difference between that and college dominance. He'll be incredible next year. Selby and Henry have nothing to do with the expectations for him this year.

soapisurfriend 1 year, 4 months ago

Sorry if it had been mentioned elsewhere, but Cliff Alexander is making a return visit for Late Night. Here is some of what he said recently. He is now second ranked overall by ESPN in 2014.

"I've really been talking to the staff at Kansas a lot. Coach Howard is the main guy from Kansas that got things started, and then I heard from Coach Self and then Coach Self talked to my parents.

Kansas has offered me a scholarship," he added. "I'll be taking a visit to Kansas during Late Night (in the Phog) and I have a lot of interest in Kansas. With Coach Howard at Kansas, I've very interested in Kansas now."

"Since Coach Howard got the job at Kansas, we've talked almost every day," said Alexander. "We talk all of the time and Coach Howard is a great guy. I love (them) Kansas."

Benz Junque 1 year, 4 months ago

To quote Alexander: “A school that likes to get out and run (offensively), a great coaching staff,” he said. “Me and coach have to see eye-to-eye. Respect my family. That’s it.”

I would hardly describe Michigan State as a team that likes to get out and run. We'll see...

Joe Baker 1 year, 4 months ago

Sounds like KU is the perfect fit for him...haha

Seriously, I really think Wiggins said it best during his last interview, "...coach is a funny guy and a player's coach."

oldalum 1 year, 4 months ago

That article was dated June 3. Maybe his feelings have changed since then?

Jack Wilson 1 year, 4 months ago

Ah, this is nice. But it's early, and there is always the numbers game.

Would he start over Ellis or Embiid? Is the #2 player in the country going to be content to come off the bench his first season? Or would he be good enough to start? Maybe he is that good, and maybe he wouldn't need to come off the bench.

Suppose we did land Alexander. We know what that would mean for Traylor, Lucas and Mickelson. If Alexander came, and Ellis and Embiid were here in 2014-15, two of those three simply wouldn't play at all, right?

Alexander would be an amazing player to land .. but then we venture into whether he's a presumed OAD, and all that follows.

pill41 1 year, 4 months ago

Yeah, that would be a gluttony of big talent. I think Perry could potentially be ready to slide to spending some time at the 3 by his junior year. Of course, that just puts the minutes crunch on White and Greene. There may be unforeseen defections between now and then but it looks like any elite 2015 recruits will be in for a position battle, regardless of position.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 4 months ago

Embiid = 2AD, I suspect most likely.....GO HARD AFTER S. Zimmerman!!!!!

Jeff Kilgore 1 year, 4 months ago

You're assuming Embiid will be around two years. I have a feeling that Embiid will be an OAD based on potential, and that this will be a struggle for Self all year. Black is available for just one year, with Ellis, Lucas, and Traylor needing minutes. If Embiid gets 10-15 minutes a game, that won't develop him as well as the 25-30 minutes, but with only five on at a time, it's hard to see how the minutes are going to work. Being loaded like this is really something new for all of us, and especially for Self.

soapisurfriend 1 year, 4 months ago

I can't say much about Alexander because I don't know much about him. I've heard he is a motor guy, similar to TRob. I can say with pretty good certainty though that if we managed to land Okafor, he would start. I haven't seen such a dominant high school post player in a long time. And their AAU coach recently said he'd like to see Alexander and Okafor team up in college with Jones.

texashawk10 1 year, 4 months ago

drgnslayr, Bill Self is on record as not liking the OAD rule, but he is also someone like Cal, like Coach K, like Roy who will still recruit as many of those kids as possible because those are the most talented kids and those are the kids Bill Self believes will help him win another title above all others. People can sit back and argue all they want about whether they believe it's the right strategy, but at the end of the day, Bill Self believes that's the best strategy for himself and he chooses to recruit presumed OAD's and then go after the second and third tier kids after the top tier kids are off the board.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 4 months ago

Some of why I want 20 - 35th ranked (depending on the Service) Josh Perkins. Backs up Tharpe and then probably around another 2-4 years to be our starting PG after that. He's really risen up the charts too....not one that's steadfastly alwasy been locked into the top 10-20 or so. Services used to have him in the 40's.

texashawk10 1 year, 4 months ago

Bill Self may very well be on the verge of going on a run of landing highly rated 5 stars because there are a lot of those type of kids watching how Self handles Wiggins and if they like what they see and hear, then KU could very well start recruiting at the same level as Kentucky.

As far as who would lose out on PT if Cliff Alexander came to KU, it wouldn't be Ellis, it would be Embiid. There is no denying that Embiid has a very good foundation of skills, but the question mark on him is how quickly will those skills develop to where he can stay on the floor for long stretches. Right now, the two biggest knocks on him are his defense and his ability to match up physically in the paint. He is still very foul prone based on comments from others which isn't surprising since he's still learning the fundamentals of playing defense. People have also said that he is having a hard time asserting himself and playing without the ball. His issues are traced right back to this upcoming season being his 3rd year of organized basketball and will be fixed with time and experience. I do believe he will be the third big in the rotation this year, but I also wouldn't be too surprised if he ends up being the 4th big playing about 10 minutes a game if his foul rate dictates that 10 minutes is all Self can get out of Embiid until Embiid learns to not foul.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 4 months ago

Slide Perry down to the "3". Greene can back-up Selden at the "2" (asumming he's still around) & A. White III can back-up Perry at the "3".

Jack Wilson 1 year, 4 months ago

I would highly doubt .. actually, I'd pretty much guarantee .. that Ellis isn't an option at the 3. He just isn't that type of player at the college level. At best, he can flex out like Marcus did at bit.

I am assuming Embiid is around 2 seasons. If Embiid does leave after one season, PT issues are solved regarding Alexander. Heck, Self may know something we don't on Embiid. Who knows. But I would think Embiid is here two seasons at the least.

And to drgnslayer's point, I guess I would stick with my position .. strongly pursue the guys who are just outside of presumed OAD status, and within the top 50. That's your core. Then only get an OAD if you have a clear hold to fill .. Like a Randle would have filled a post spot. My opinion may change based on how the Wiggins deal plays out. But so far .. X and Selby .. I have very much disliked the drama.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 4 months ago

I remember like 6 - 8 months back I wanted this kid. Body-wise & game-wise reminds me of T.Rob.

It also wouldn't surprise me if Jo. Perkins & R. Vaughn were at Late Night.

To me that woudl be the IDEAL threesome based on needs.

Michael Luby 1 year, 4 months ago

Ahhhh, Selby doesn't even belong in the same discussion and maybe not even Xav. Cole does have a good point though. Wigs is only 18, he will learn quick though, be a sponge, and put on a clinic later on in the season. Id like to skip the rest of summer now and fast forward to late night, ok?

Adam Collins 1 year, 4 months ago

I've been following Alexander on Twitter and he definitely seems high on KU.

Phoggie_Thinking 1 year, 4 months ago

You're right! I am sending an email to Self today to tell him not to expect to much out of Wiggins. He has been way to effusive in his talk about Wiggins and it is obvious that Wiggins is nothing more than a scrub. ~ sarcasm.

Fans like hype, sorry to inform you of this, but it is what drives sports interest besides gambling :).

chriz 1 year, 4 months ago

I just think it's cool to have so many of our former players come back. I'm a bit surprised that the Morris twins haven't been back. I can't say I'm surprised that we haven't seen Xavier. I wish we could get someone from the title team (aside from Sherron).

Jeff Kilgore 1 year, 4 months ago

Yeah, Arthur, Jackson, especially Kahn and my favorite, Robinson. What a crew of awesome players. Oh yes, Rush too!

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 4 months ago

???? - Um, Morris twins were back when Chalmers's jersey was retired....I think it was the Texas game when Randle visited.

texashawk10 1 year, 4 months ago

Kaun has been in Lawrence when he's been injured, but I think he lives in Russia year round now that he's part of Russia's national team.

Scott Smetana 1 year, 4 months ago

It's very difficult for me to rank Withey over Cole when we rank the 5 position in the upcoming week. It's a toss up for me.

Joe Baker 1 year, 4 months ago

Smitty- I love Cole, but Aldrich was a good fundamental player. I could depend on him to work inside and get the job done. But, with Collins and Cole on the court, we weren't that fast, comparatively. I remember Sherron having to slow plays down so Cole could get position. Cole's feet have always been his albatross.

Withey is so much more fluid, quick, and plain athletic. Withey could challenge, where Aldrich had to be completely ready for a play and in position to make a play. I'm not saying Cole is a terrible player, but his comments about this group are very telling when he observes "athleticism." Athleticism is not an opinion, it's a factual comment. You can't teach it. It's natural.

Joe Baker 1 year, 4 months ago

I will say Cole had some of the softess, surest hands of any big. He had great hands and a feel for the ball around the rim.

Joe Baker 1 year, 4 months ago

Sorry to keep posting, but I remember a game Knight did with Cole in the game. He said something about Cole being recruited out of Minnesota. Knight said if he were coaching in MN, he would've done his best to have kept Cole in the state. Letting Aldrich out of MN was a colossal mistake.

Knight loved Aldrich. "[Cole Aldrich is the] most efficient player in the country....This guy can really play defense. In my opinion, Cole Aldrich is just as important to the Kansas offense as he is to its defense. He gets the offense started with his rebounding and his release passes." -- ESPN analyst and former coach Bobby Knight

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 4 months ago

Cole seemed more "lumbering" (translated - a bit slower) than Withey.

Cole = better rebounder.

Withey = better shot-blocker & defender...that doesn't mean that Cole wasn't also a very good shot-blocker however (i.e., see 2nd Round NCAA game in '09 vs. Dayton - The Triple Double Game).

I think why I put Withey up higher is that I think he did better when challeneged against another quality big man - i.e., the job he did defensively on A. Davis in the '12 Title Game was awesome.

actorman 1 year, 4 months ago

I don't know; I'd say Cole did fairly well against Hansbrough in the '08 Final Four -- and Cole had barely played all season before that point.

texashawk10 1 year, 4 months ago

Cole had played in every game and averaged around 10 minutes a game that season. Not huge minutes, but also not barely playing either. Cole Aldrich is not a naturally gifted athlete and neither is Hansbrough. Both are guys that have had to work very hard at their craft to overcome their natural lack of athleticism.

Joe Baker 1 year, 4 months ago

“Darnell didn’t quite like to hit people like Tarik does, but I’ve had a good time going against him. It’s been fun.”

Loves it

With the NBA Draft coming up Thursday, Aldrich said his advice for KU’s future pros would be to enjoy the experience — and also be ready to wait for success.

This is great advice for a mature kid, but to an 18-19 yr old watching these NBA stars, it's not easy to 'wait.'

Tony Bandle 1 year, 4 months ago

New Nickname for Tarik Black...Tarik "EMB" Black...."Extreme Muscle Ball"!!

Sam Constance 1 year, 4 months ago

I was thinking more along the lines of The Night's Watch. But that also means we would have to call Embiid The Wall.

Because the Night's Watch and the Wall work together to defend the realm of men

Rock_Chalk_25 1 year, 4 months ago

My buddy suggested T-Bone as a nickname for Tarik. Just seems like a good fit.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 4 months ago

I'd love to know if we ever had a kid who ended up coming to KU that was at one of Self's or Roy's camps.

I want to say that Ryan Robertson went to a Roy Williams camp when he was younger before then eventually coming to KU>

Curious to know if Conner or Perry went.

Or for that matter Simien, Jeff Hawkins, Jeff Graves, Tyrel Reid, Morningstar.....past ones from the area.

wrwlumpy 1 year, 4 months ago

Simian from 8th grade for Roy and his camps. Probably a scholarship offered very early.

actorman 1 year, 4 months ago

If I'm not mistaken, Roy offered it to him after the camp.

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