Greg Ostertag did more than pick up splinters his rookie season in the NBA.
Ostertag, a 7-foot-1, 270-pounder from Kansas University, averaged 3.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks while playing more than 10 minutes per game for the Utah Jazz.
He spent time guarding all of the NBA's elite centers -- Shaq, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and the like.
"They were very tough. It was a great experience and at the same time fun. They're the best in the world," Ostertag said Monday. "In some cases I did hold my own and even played well against them. Sometimes I looked like an idiot."
Ostertag definitely improved as the season progressed.
"I reported out of shape," said Ostertag, Utah's No. 1 pick (28th overall) in the 1995 Draft. "But I was in shape at the end of the season. I know I have to work out all year round. In that league, the physical play is a lot more intense than college. It demands more on your body. I have to be ready every night to battle guys bigger, stronger and more experienced than me."
Ostertag averaged 15.5 points, 12.5 boards and five blocks for Utah's summer league team in the NBA's Rocky Mountain Review.
"I played pretty well. Hopefully it'll help me get ready for my second season," Ostertag said. "We had a great season last year, but it was disappointing too. It's the farthest they'd ever gone before (losing in Western Conference finals). Everybody's excited about taking the next step next season."
Ostertag, who hasn't been in Lawrence since last summer, will return to host the Greg Ostertag golf tournament to benefit the American Lung Assn. of Kansas. Half the field is full for the tourney, set for Monday, Aug. 26 at Alvamar. Former Jayhawks Ostertag, Mike Maddox and Rex Walters will compete along with KU assistant Matt Doherty and others.
"I'm doing it for kids who have asthma, like me," Ostertag said. "I'd like to do all I can do help research. To do this every year, that would be cool. Hopefully it'll grow every year."
Ostertag, who was diagnosed with asthma his junior year at KU, must use an inhaler before every game.
Ostertag had hoped to bring his buddy, Karl Malone, with him to Lawrence. Malone, Utah's veteran forward, can't attend the golf outing because of another commitment.
"We are real good friends. We both like to hunt, fish and listen to the same kind of music," Ostertag said. "I'm looking forward to coming back. I missed everybody a lot last year. I called coach (Roy) Williams a lot to see how he was doing and tell him how I was doing."
For further information or to sign up for the tourney, call 1-800-LUNG-USA.