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.



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.


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


jhwk215 11 years, 1 month 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.

Jayhawklegacy 11 years, 1 month ago

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

nuleafjhawk 11 years, 1 month ago

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

AsadZ 11 years, 1 month 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.

Brad Avery 11 years, 1 month 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.

ChicagoJHawk 11 years, 1 month 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?

Scott Smetana 11 years, 1 month ago

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

theend 11 years, 1 month ago

No....there is absolutely nothing wrong with it at's called free markets/capitalism.....and Cole deserves every penny of it. Besides.....why is it any of your business what an NBA team pays a player? It isn't. That's their decision. you want the government to regulate NBA pay?? Also...he may be on the bench most of games.....but I can assure you he has worked very hard to be where he is....I hope he makes more in the future.

So get off his back. You're probably just jealous.....or big liberal that hates to see success rewarded. Go post on a marxist board, comrade.

Mark Anderson 11 years, 1 month ago

Take a chill pill! How about a little civility? This is a sports/KU Jayhawks board. Posters should be able to express their opinion without being called names or characterized by someone who disagrees with what was said. Keep the politics on the political blogs and out of the sports venue. We're all Jayhawks here, regardless of political persuasion. Try and act like a KU sports fan.

theend 11 years, 1 month ago

As you said....I was expressing my you're a bit hypocritical, aren't you. If you don't like it....don't read it. We don't need a hall monitor here either.. I didn't say anything that was not civil. You must have a very thin skin. In future......keep your judgemental, useless comments to yourself.

kennethst 11 years, 1 month ago

Actually,georgeJhawk.....I would say you're the one that needs a chill-pill......especially seeing that the original comment that 'theend' responded to was very critical of our Cole.......I really don't care what people write. But we sure don't need a monitor like you.

theend 11 years, 1 month ago

jwliddell-I remember you. We have debated before and I respect you because you are insightful and fair....including your comments today.

Jeff Coffman 11 years, 1 month ago

I'm not sure if they really can, that is why they are going to have a CBA problem that is supposedly worse than the NFL issue right now...scary to think about.

Rian Ankerholz 11 years, 1 month 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!

theend 11 years, 1 month 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

theend 11 years, 1 month 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!!

James Miller 11 years, 1 month ago

Dude, this is a college website. You are not allowed to have a conservative thought anywhere around a college. This includes websites. As a matter of fact, while on this site, you are not to have a conservative thought within 50 meters of your computer. If you want to talk about taking Cole's money and giving it to people who don't deserve it, then that is okay.

bradynsdad 11 years, 1 month 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.

theend 11 years, 1 month ago

bradynsdad-why are we suddenly agreeing? yes....I agree. Cole is a great kid that will probably be coming "home" to Kansas 20 years from now....again and again......just like Wayne Simien.

bradynsdad 11 years, 1 month ago

Wayne simien much like tyrell reed is everything you want in a jayhawk. Sure they didn't bring us N.C. but they represented our university in the best possible aspect. I don't mention much about myself but I will tell you this, I am a big Christian. I have had the honor of listening to Wayne speak at my church and he is amazing. I think it's great he is a mentor to our players. We have had our disagreements but one thing you should know, good times or bad I will always stand up for our coaches and players. That's one thing I learned from Wayne. So if you feel like I am attacking your posts please don't take that as me attacking you so much as me staying positive about out program.

kennethst 11 years, 1 month ago

I deserved no worries. But I'm over it now(finally).....I'm one of these guys that can stay frustated for months.....One of my many flaws. But there is always next year(and the next.....and the next,etc).

Good old Wayne there is an inspiring guy.....and I have a feeling that you are as well.

kennethst 11 years, 1 month ago

JwLiddell.....I always wonder when you will show 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.

kennethst 11 years, 1 month ago

Well sir.....there is no place in the world I recommend more than Scotland(Ireland a close 2nd)....If you like scenery-prepare to be awe-struck. At times, you will feel you have left the earth. And the scotch....oh my.....the scotch......

Never been to Amsterdam or any part of Holland. I hear it is fun. Be safe in your travels!

ajhk 11 years, 1 month ago

Cole is class. Welcome back big fella.

REHawk 11 years, 1 month 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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