After an outstanding three-year career at Kansas, which included a 2008 NCAA Championship and three Big 12 titles during his tenure, Cole Aldrich was a Lottery pick this June. First selected by the Hornets before being trading to the Thunder on Draft Night, the Bloomington, Minn., native gladly returned to the Midwest. So with everyone’s expectations for the Thunder going through the roof this season, we decided there was no one better to turn to for the inside scoop on life in OKC. In his fifth entry, Cole talks about the D-League Showcase, Serge Ibaka in the dunk contest and his best Christmas gift.
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Well, it’s safe to say that I’ve been all over the place since I last checked in. I’m back in the D-League with these guys (Tulsa 66ers), and right now back in Tulsa. We’ve got a few games here and then a few on the road. We went from Austin to Dallas back to Austin, then came to Tulsa for a few games and then back to Dallas. Then we were in South Padre for the D-League Showcase and then Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a few games.
Of all those games, the Showcase was probably the most fun. Everybody from all the D-League teams were there, and it was great to see a lot of guys that I’ve played against and know. Also, for all the guys that aren’t down in the D-League on assignment, it was really beneficial. With all the teams there and all the scouts â€“ and overseas scouts came over too â€“ it was really cool to have those guys fired up seeing them in the stands.
I was probably most excited to play Dexter Pittman. I played against him a number of times in high school and then at Texas. It was great to go up against him and just see him. But when we weren’t playing, I mostly hung out with our team. We have a pretty close team and we always have fun together.
We all stayed in one hotel, so you can imagine it was crazy busy. For me, at least, it was real low-key. I used it as an opportunity to get some rest. We had been on the road for four or five days before, so I wanted to get that rest and make sure I had enough energy for the games.
We stayed on the island, so it was real quiet considering it was the offseason. It’s the winter, so everyone was there for the Showcase. The first day that we were there I was able to throw my bags in the room and walk around a bit. After that, the next few days were dreary, cool and rainy, so I just stuck around the hotel.
As always, I try to catch as many Thunder games as I can when I’m away. I want to make sure I’m in sync when I come back and continue to support them. Truthfully though, I’m just worried about our games down here. I need to continue going out there and playing our games hard â€“ that’s what’s really going to benefit me.
I’m really working on just seeing the floor better. You know, the path of seeing plays happen before they actually do. That’s kind of a big adjustment between college and the pro game. It’s all about floor spacing, and I need to continue to do that.
You may have seen, but we had two guys get called up to the NBA from our team: Zabian Dowdell to the Suns and then Larry Owens to the Spurs. Those guys must be living the good life right now. For Z, we found out the next day at practice when he wasn’t there. He told a few guys, but I was like, “Where’s Z?” Someone said he got called up, and I was like, “Oh really?!” We were all excited. For Larry, we were riding the bus back to the hotel after one of our games in Albuquerque when he got the call. It was cool to see the smile on his face.
With them gone, we’ve been playing two guys down. We’ll see if they get a contract up there or not. Hopefully they do. It would be really good to see those guys playing on a roster. Either way, our team’s playing well. We’re on a 12-game win streak, despite losing two of our main guys.
The other day someone asked me if I thought Serge Ibaka could win the dunk contest. You know, I’ve got an idea what he can do, but I don’t think he’s going to tell anybody. It will be cool to see him compete and with Kevin [Durant] being his coach. I won’t be out there though. As of right now, I’m thinking of going back to Lawrence and catching one of the KU games. It would be nice to hang out with everybody back on campus.
I watched their game the other night against Baylor, and they played a really good first half. The twins (Marcus and Markieff Morris) are playing real well. I think with the absence of me, Xavier [Henry] and Sherron [Collins], they took a hit this year, but the really good thing is they haven’t lost a step. The twins worked hard this summer. Marcus is tough to guard and Markieff is doing well in the post. And it’s good to see Tyrel Reed playing well too. He was my roommate. Everyone keeps asking me what I think about Josh Selby. He’s good. He can score the ball really well, and that’s a tough position for a freshman to come into â€“ especially for a really good program like ours.
And for those of you wondering about how Secret Santa turned out, it went well. I got a Bulova watch and it was really cool. I pulled D.J. White, and I got him some grilling equipment. I wanted to make sure that he had all the utensils to make a good burger or some grilled chicken.
For Christmas, I got a winter hat, a big watch case, and other odds and ends. You know, things that I needed. Nothing too crazy. Probably the best gift that I got was a blender. When I get home, I’m gonna have to make some smoothies and throw some fruit and whatnot in there.
I spent New Year’s Eve in Dallas. We had a game the next day so I didn’t even do anything. I just hang out in the room. To tell you the truth, I don’t even think I stayed up until midnight. I’m not real big on New Year’s resolutions. I figure if I want to start something, I don’t really need to wait until the New Year to start it.
Until next time…
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