Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cole Aldrich MIA at camp

Ex-KU big man still playing

Former KU player Mark Randall, left, leads a warm-up exercise during the Cole Aldrich basketball camp Monday, July 9, 2012, at Olathe Northwest High School.

Former KU player Mark Randall, left, leads a warm-up exercise during the Cole Aldrich basketball camp Monday, July 9, 2012, at Olathe Northwest High School.


— For reasons he could not have expected when he made the schedule, former Kansas University center Cole Aldrich missed the opening day of his basketball camp Monday at Olathe Northwest High.

But while the third-year pro was busy playing for Oklahoma City’s summer league squad in Orlando, Fla., a handful of current and former Jayhawks were in Olathe holding down the camp.

Senior-to-be Travis Releford teamed with former Jayhawks Mark Randall and Jeff Gueldner to run more than 100 campers through a day of drills, instructions and various camp games. For Randall, a former first-round pick of the Chicago Bulls, helping Aldrich out was a no-brainer.


Former KU player Mark Randall, left, leads a warm-up exercise during the Cole Aldrich basketball camp Monday, July 9, 2012, at Olathe Northwest High School.


Kansas senior guard Travis Releford chats with some of the smaller participants of the Cole Aldrich basketball camp Monday, July 9, 2012, at Olathe Northwest High School.

“He gave us the heads-up that he wasn’t gonna be here today, and that’s just how it works,” said Randall, recalling his days a pro. “If they say you’re gonna be in camp, you’re gonna be in camp. He’s not playing a ton with Oklahoma City, and he has to be able to show them that he’s worth investing in. And if it doesn’t work out in Oklahoma City, he’s gotta show someone else that he can play. So it’s a necessity for him. It’s horrible timing. But he could never have known this was gonna happen.”

Camp officials said Aldrich was bummed about missing opening day of the camp that bears his name and was still holding out hope that he could get back to town at some point before camp closed Thursday.

During Monday’s summer league opener, Aldrich started and played 31 minutes in the Thunder’s 73-65 loss to the Celtics. He scored one point, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked a shot.

In the meantime, Aldrich lined up a pretty stellar lineup to fill the void. Randall and Gueldner are scheduled to be at camp every day, and former Jayhawks Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed are expected to pop in as often as possible. In addition, one member of KU’s current roster will be on site each day.

“We do these camps all summer, so it’s a lot of fun,” Releford said. “I enjoy doing this.”

Freshman Perry Ellis will be in the gym today, senior center Jeff Withey will take his turn Wednesday, and sophomore point guard Naadir Tharpe will finish things off on Thursday.

Releford on newcomers

Asked about the new crew of Jayhawks in town, Releford smiled and said he was looking forward to playing with all of them.

“It’s a whole new team, different faces, different personalities,” he said. “And it’s been a lot of fun just getting to know all of those guys.”

Although he has had limited time with most of them, Releford said he thought the newcomers could help KU.

“All those guys are humble,” he said. “They listen, they ask questions, and they’re just ready to learn, so I think it’s gonna be a fun year.”


“A little bit, for sure,” he said. “But coach will get it together.”

Self homer

Speaking of his coach, Releford was not in attendance at Sunday night’s all-star celebrity softball game at Kauffman Stadium and, therefore, did not see the home run hit by Bill Self.

“I just heard about it today,” Releford said. “One of the kids was telling me about it. I was a little surprised at first.”

Randall on return

Randall, who still works in community-outreach endeavors for his hometown Denver Nuggets, said he jumped at the chance to come work Aldrich’s camp for one reason.

“I want to try to get back to Kansas as much as I can,” Randall said. “And this gives me a great excuse to come back and spend time with young people and see some of the guys I don’t get to see.”

With the Jayhawks no longer heading into his home state of Colorado on an annual basis, the 12th leading scorer in KU history said opportunities like the one he’s enjoying this week became all the more important.

“I still get to see the team every now and then,” Randall said. “But it’s cool to come back and spend time with them.”


Trey Hohman 9 years, 12 months ago

Cole was getting manhandled on the block during yesterday's NBA Summer League Game by Jared Sullinger, who is still appx.. 10 pounds overweight with a sketchy back. Watching Cole play yesterday, it honestly looks like he hasn't improved any part of his game since leaving KU. Mostly because he plays like he has no interest in the sport of basketball. When he gets caught in traffic with the ball, the possession never ends good because he has absolutely zero post moves and is a highly underrated terrible passer out of the post. His lack of strength (he looks skinnier now than he did when at KU) greatly affects his rebounding numbers because he cannot get any type of decent position on/off the block. Cole is simply not strong enough to be the kind of player who is going to get 3-4 easy tip buckets from cleaning up random offensive rebounds, which ironically, is the only way he is ever going to be able to score buckets in the NBA. As it stands now unless he starts hitting the weights super intense (e.g. Think Morris Twins pre-Sophmore season) Cole is destined to be a lottery bust in the tradition of Eric Montross and many other exceptionally large white american males.

Adam Evans 9 years, 12 months ago

tell us how you really feel and even a tad racist at the end there too. I can think of plenty of all races that have been busts or surprise successes. NBA success, and failure for that matter, is totally equal oppourtunist.

Steve Corder 9 years, 12 months ago

Frankly, I think this is a pretty astute analysis. Great kid, but at the NBA level you're spot on.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 12 months ago

What exactly does " a highly underrated terrible passer out of the post" mean?

Luke Kay 9 years, 12 months ago

Unfortunately, I have to say I agree completely. I really liked Cole in college, and thought he could be dominant if he developed some form of offensive consistency. He is a nice guy with a good work ethic, but I think he was used to dominating and overpowering lesser competition. I think he entered the draft too early. Even though we all know why he did and have to respect his reasons. He needed another year with Danny to develope some kind of offense to go with his defensive skill. Now he is being forced to learn the hard way. I hope he gets it figured out, I really do.

Adam Evans 9 years, 12 months ago

Not saying I disagree completely with the analysis. But I really don't think he had been given the opportunity to do anything else than what he's been given. And the fact that he's a big white guy has nothing do do with his success or failure at the next level.

Adam Evans 9 years, 12 months ago

Aldrich really needs to find a situation to get more PT. He deserves it. At least to get the chances Collison has gotten and deserved.

yates33333 9 years, 12 months ago

Absolutely. Collison deserves all he has gotten. Aldrich wasn't the college player Collison was and won't be the pro player. He's lucky he's as tall as he is.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 12 months ago

Just asking - is the +1 the same as a "thumb up" ?

Adam Evans 9 years, 12 months ago

Again, not saying anything about the two being at equal levels. They aren't. Nick is one of the best college players of the last decade whereas cole might make the top 50 if he's lucky. Just saying I don't believe he has been given a chance. Even the beat writers for OKC have said so. Let him prove himself either as a solid role player and utilize him or as a failure and drop him. He's been in limbo since he got to the league.

jaybate 9 years, 12 months ago

Great to read Travis talking about the recruits being humble and wanting to learn. Trav has come a long ways. He is going to have a big year.

RJ King 9 years, 12 months ago

Interesting too, because that's how I would describe the Travis of the past 4 years.

jayhawkinATL 9 years, 12 months ago

Cole needs to get mean on the defensive end and focus on that part of his game. Sorry, but he's never going to be an option on the offensive end...just doesn't have the coordination/skills to go up against true NBA bigs.

Robert Brown 9 years, 12 months ago

Aldrich would have benefitted by staying an extra year to hone his offensive skills. I did not see a lot of improvement from him offensively during his final season at KU. I can't blame him for leaving given his lottery pick status.

REHawk 9 years, 12 months ago

Cole loved KU and Div. I basketball. Really a shame that he had to grab the brass ring and depart after year 3. Another year of Hudy and Manning would have been good for him. A terrific young man who represented the crimson and blue in style. Signed for a professional bundle, but might need to start thinking about a beer distributorship in the near future. I wish him the very best of good fortune. His play vs. T. Hansbrough still ranks as one of my alltime favorite NCAA Tournament memories.

FLJHK 9 years, 12 months ago

Agree another year with those two could have been of benefit, but, as you indicate, he had no realistic choice but to take the money while it was there.

With OKC's depth, that may not be the best place for him. But I think his basketball skills are sufficient to get minutes in the L as a back-up. But he needs to demonstrate the motor and the will. If he wants to do that I think he can. Back-up bigs are a valuable commodity.

At any rate he was a delight at KU, and the Hansbrough game remains one of my favorite memories as well.

Steve Kubler 9 years, 12 months ago

You all missed the important line.. “I just heard about it today,” Releford said. “One of the kids was telling me about it. I was a little surprised at first.”.

Someone will be running stairs for dissing HCBS like that.

Come on! I'm joking!!

RJ King 9 years, 12 months ago

I caught it too and smiled. Travis comes across as very genuine. A very endearing quality.

Ted Hume 9 years, 12 months ago

I think sometimes people over estimate how much a player can improve or continue to develop from one year to the next in any setting. The reality is, after 3 years in the system at KU, Cole reached a pretty high percentage of his potential, and his transition to the NBA made terrific sense. Sure, Cole could have worked with Manning and Hudy for one final year, but do you really think that one more year in that setting- having to split between school work and ball- he would have somehow found some substantial extra ability on the court that he would not achieve as a full-time, professional athlete, with round-the-clock weight training, conditioning and on-court workouts like every NBA player receives? Let's face it, our system is the best in the country for maximizing a player's potential as a student athlete, but it's not superior to what an NBA system can give a player in terms of dedicated time and resources to getting better, stronger, faster, tougher, facing up against, and learning from, the best players on the planet. The NBA's the top of the top, and only a small number have the sheer athleticism and talent to succeed at the highest level. Cole's just not going to be one of those guys, and it's certainly not his fault.

Clarence Haynes 9 years, 12 months ago

Just saw Mario Chalmers interview on ESPN by Lyndsay Czarniak. .

REHawk 9 years, 12 months ago

What does Mario say about Miami trade talk? Does he see his position as fairly secure?

Cameron Cederlind 9 years, 12 months ago

He needs to leave, he got his Championship ring and was easily the 4th best player on a team of All-Stars. If Jeremy Lin is getting offered a giant contract, there's no doubt that Chalmers can negotiate with a new team to get a better contract. I wouldn't mind seeing him go to the Thunder to play next to Westbrook. They might actually appreciate him more there instead of treating him like a child.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 12 months ago

Mario has been a consistent winner at every level. Back to back high school championships in Alaska, a NCAA championship and now an NBA championship as well.

There have been many great players who have never tasted a championship.

Gary McCullough 9 years, 12 months ago

With Mark and Jeff running the camp, the only one of the three amigos from the Brown era Championship missing is Scooter. They were a hoot back in the day.

Jonathan Allison 9 years, 12 months ago

From what I've read and seen of Cole this year with the Thunder, he is ready to contribute.

I didn't see any of the summer league stuff, and I know that he only played mop up minutes against the Heat scrubs in game 5 of the Finals (I did notice that when he came in that he definitely changed the game), but he really just needs an opportunity to play.

Also, concerning his leaving KU after his junior year, he made the right choice. His draft status dropped during his junior year. After his sophomore season he was projected to be a top 5 pick as a junior, after his junior season he was lucky to be a lottery pick. Could he have improved his stock with a senior year? Maybe. Was it worth the chance? No.

Remember also that his dad had lost his job and his family needed help financially. Cole was a great player at KU and he's ready to be a good player in the NBA. He may look a little soft or uncoordinated partly because he's not got the body type to have huge bulging muscles and because he's double jointed or something, but in limited playing time he's got the Oklahoma fan base wanting to see more. Because when he does play, he plays really strong on the glass.

I can't wait to see him get some really playing time.

Adam Evans 9 years, 12 months ago

Agree on all points. Give him the chance to succeed or the chance to fail. Let him earn either on his own.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 12 months ago

All Cole needs to do is play a few more games against Hansborough, hand him his lunch on the court ala 2008 and regain his confidence!!

Just ask yourself these questions...Is he more athletic than Ostertag? Is he quicker? Is his offensive potential marginally better? Is his attitude more focused? Old Greggo lasted a decade or more.....why can't Cole do the same!!

addlime 9 years, 12 months ago

I think Cole is probably being challenged by OKC staff to improve his offensive skill set. But what Cole really needs to work to maintain is his lower body strength. That will help him to rebound and play solid D, which is really his strength. If he loses that, he won't last long in the league.

ironhead80 9 years, 12 months ago

Cole left at the right time, him staying to play another year at KU , would'nt have made him an elite player in the NBA. Cole needs to be on a team which have the right style of play to where he can develope his play as a NBA player. He needs to find away how to contribute and make himself more valueable to the team like Pollard did. To whom ever the grammer and spelling patrol are? GO! FURS's

Preston Dwiggins 9 years, 12 months ago

Skimming through here I noticed a couple of comments...Regarding Releford...He definitely is a class act - I agree! His decision-making on the court reminds me of Reed; a coache's kid. I don't think Cole should have stayed a year longer. I believe if he did, his stock would have dropped as did Collins. I enjoyed Cole during his time at KU, but was ready to see the "funky" shot depart, thus making room for the twins and Trob. Collison is a coaches dream as well. He does everything that is asked of him and more. I am proud to call Collison a Jayhawk for life unlike one-year nowonders like Selby or Henry.

Preston Dwiggins 9 years, 12 months ago

I somewhat agree on most of what you said Ralster, but it embarrasses me to see unpolished KU players flop in the NBA. I understand rolling the dice, but if he was as good as advertised, I believe he would have been better off staying. I wish the best for him. One last thing, I never understood the NBA body Henry had and not penetrating more...

RJ King 9 years, 12 months ago

is the aforementioned book available online? title please? would love to read . . .

jaybate 9 years, 12 months ago

Cole is like a lot of players. He may need a change of scenery. He is suited to play Nicks role on the Thunder, but the Thunder have Nick and Nick is so talented that he's slumming it as at a backup. He may need a team that plays a little different style.

On the other hand, it is no secret that Cole has never been the same athlete he was after his first starting season. Its never been persuasively explained what happened to him physically at KU. He seemed sick most of his last season and he seemed injured part of it. For short stretches he could be a holy terror on the floor that last season, but once he got beyond the 20 minute envelope, his play tended to fall of sharply. Cole was a lot of things at KU. He was a mad stork. He was a remarkable rebounder and shot blocker. He had a funky, but effective shot and shot well from the FT stripe. He had a big man's mentality and he could seriously dish out the discipline to teams that tried to rough him up that last season. He was frankly, more menacing a player than TRob was, despite TRob's awesome technique. Cole could and did stick elbows in the ears of anyone that came in the paint often. Cole was many things, but he was not a "soft" big man.

So: the descriptions of him struggling have always sounded more like extensions of his mysterious sickness that sapped his cardiovascular capacity and his never quite explained leg problems.

Since, the guy appeared to be allergic to just about every kind of dust and pollen the midwest, I always thought the best place for him was in a franchise on the coast, as in right on the water (e.g., Golden State, Boston, New York, LA, or Miami).

If I were Cole, if they want to move him, I would put out the word that I would be willing to take a pretty significant pay cut to play for one of the franchises I listed above, preferably Boston, or Golden State, where its cool, or cold, and on the ocean where the pollen counts are lower. I would quit coming back to Lawrence, except in the dead of winter. I would commit myself to limiting my allergic reactions, and keeping my pipes wide open. Then if he can't play competitively under those conditions, I would head for Europe and enjoy life and play, but be equally choosey about finding a team in a port town to play for and live in.

Lance Hobson 9 years, 12 months ago

Randall is and always will be a KU great. But imagine if KU had scored a few more points in that 1991 title game, he would be a legend.

RJ King 9 years, 12 months ago

M must stand for your misery. 1, 2, 3 as high as you can count.

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