MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Chasing an NBA dream hasn’t left many opportunities for Cole Aldrich to get back home in the last four years.
The former Associated Press player of the year left Bloomington Jefferson High School in 2007 for the University of Kansas, developed into a star center there and landed in Oklahoma City last year as a rookie lottery pick in the NBA.
Unfortunately for him, the NBA lockout has left him with plenty of time on his hands. So Aldrich has decided to take advantage of it by getting back home to host his first basketball camp in Minnesota.
“It’s always fun,” said Aldrich, who held a camp in Lawrence, Kan., last summer. “It’s kind of a way to give back to the community that raised me.”
The camp will be held Monday through Friday next week starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Jefferson Activity Center. The camp is open to boys and girls aged 7 to 16 and costs $225.
“We’ll be working on the fundamentals, which is always important,” Aldrich said. “A lot of people watch the NBA game and see Dwyane Wade throwing a behind-the-back pass. But he couldn’t do that if he didn’t learn the fundamentals of the pass first. So we’re just going to have a lot of fun and try to do some teaching as well.”
The 6-foot-11 Aldrich only appeared in 18 games for the Thunder last season and spent plenty of time working on his game in the D-League.
Typically, a player makes some of his biggest improvement in the summer between his rookie and sophomore seasons in the NBA. But Aldrich is in a tough spot because players cannot work out at team facilities or even speak to coaches on the phone while the lockout is in effect.
That’s why Aldrich is living back in Lawrence, where the Jayhawks’ gleaming facilities are opening their doors to their former star.
“It’s nice,” Aldrich said. “The facilities are great. The people, the coaches, we all know each other so it’s been really fun for me to get back there.”
Aldrich said his camp at Kansas drew about 115 kids last year and he’s hoping to get somewhere close to that number next week in Bloomington. When asked if he was able to convince Thunder superstar Kevin Durant to make an appearance, Aldrich chuckled.
“I wish I could have,” he said. “There might be a lot more kids if he was going to come.”