Shortly after Alex Galindo arrived in Lawrence he joked with Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self, telling him his favorite Puerto Rican was finally here.
"Alex, you're my only Puerto Rican," Self shot back.
As apparently up-front as Galindo's sense of humor is, KU coaches had to be even more intrigued by the Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, native's unusual shot.
"Alex can really shoot the ball," Self said of Galindo's high-arching stroke, which he releases over the top of his 6-foot-7 frame.
"I don't know if Kansas has had a tall shooter like him, maybe Luke Axtell-type shooter, not quite as tall, but has that range."
The Jayhawks probably are lucky to have Galindo at all, considering that just last summer Galindo and Self weren't sure if he would be released from the national letter of intent Galindo signed to play at Texas El-Paso.
After UTEP coach Billy Gillispie resigned last spring, Galindo was granted a release from UTEP, but had to wait until the summer before the Collegiate Commissioners Assn. granted him a complete release -- allowing him not to have to sit out a season and lose a year of eligibility.
"It was kind of a tough situation," Galindo said of switching schools. "It kind of opened my eyes to the realities of college basketball. But I'm adjusting well now."
After having summer surgery to repair a broken left wrist, Galindo has battled a severe groin injury which has sidelined him since the start of fall practices.
"It's hard not being out there with my teammates," said Galindo, who aggravated a groin injury dunking during Late Night in the Phog. "I've been doing some drills until it starts to get sore. I'm doing more and more."
The ability to do more than just shoot is exactly what KU teammate J.R. Giddens said the 65th-rated high schooler by Rivals.com last season is capable of doing once he returns to full health.
"A freshman is trying to take my spot, so you have to go out there and compete and play hard," Giddens said of Galindo, who averaged 16.8 points and nine rebounds at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, N.J., under the coaching of Dan Hurley -- the younger brother of Duke point guard Bobby Hurley.
"It's going to be more competitive with those freshmen. Those guys are good. I think they're going to help us. Every day in practice is a battle."
But the only thing Galindo said he's had to battle since coming to Lawrence were his injuries, because the speed of life has slowed down from that of existence on the East Coast.
"It's a lot more relaxed here, and it's true what they say about the people being so friendly," said Galindo, who came to the U.S. two years ago.
"But as far as college life and basketball goes, it's pretty challenging trying to balance your time and everything."
Self said he might even have to balance Galindo between the post and perimeter.
"We can play Alex small at the four (big foward) and Wayne (Simien) at 5 (center), or go big and play Alex at the 3 (shooting guard)," said Self of Galindo, who averaged 10.5 points and five rebounds during the Jayhawks' preseason exhibition trip to Canada.
While Galindo admits he feels most comfortable outside as either a guard or forward, roommate and fellow East Coaster Russell Robinson said Galindo was pretty comfy no matter the position.
"Man, that guy's a comedian," Robinson said, with a laugh. "He's had no trouble fitting in at all on this team."
|Full name: Alexander David GalindoClass: freshmanHeight: 6-7Weight: 205Hometown: Newark, N.J.High school: St. Benedict's Prep.Major: undecidedBirthdate: May 6, 1985|