Wright puts on a show
Hornets forward leads alumni
Julian Wright dribbled at the top of the key, pump-faked Kansas University sophomore center Cole Aldrich, then hit the lane for a vicious slam dunk.
Wright, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound New Orleans Hornets forward, accepted a baseline feed from Nick Bradford, dribbled once and flushed hard with his right hand.
Wright also finished a one-handed lob dunk from Bradford and two-handed a slam that rocked the rim following a feed from Jeff Hawkins.
The dunks delighted 500 Bill Self basketball campers and highlighted the KU alumni team’s 76-69 victory over the current Jayhawks in Self’s annual camp scrimmage Wednesday at Horejsi Center.
“That’s God-given ability there,” Wright said after scoring a game-high 22 points off 10-of-19 shooting with six rebounds.
Wright thanked the heavens above for his health after one dunk try went awry.
Former KU guard Bradford, who played in France last season, bounced the basketball hard off the court in the direction of Wright, who couldn’t grab the breakaway pass and fell hard after the acrobatic attempt failed.
“It seemed like I landed real bad. That’s just how I am, just get back up,” Wright said. “I wanted to help the campers have fun.”
They stomped their feet on the bleachers in approval watching Wright run the court.
“It’s really tough,” the 6-foot-11, 240-pound Aldrich said of guarding Wright. “Julian is so athletic. He is so good. That’s why he was a lottery pick last year.
“He’s difficult to guard on the perimeter. He’s not a banger inside, but likes to get you off that dribble. He definitely got me off the dribble.”
Aldrich answered with eight points off 4-of-7 shooting and pulled down 10 rebounds for the current Jayhawks, who were led by incoming freshmen Travis Releford and Quintrell Thomas, who scored 13 points apiece, and sophomore Brady Morningstar, who had 12.
“We’re upset. We don’t like losing, whether it be the alumni game or even when we’re playing little kids in the camp,” Aldrich said. “We’ll make it a game, but you always try to get that ‘W’ in the end. They were good, though. They’ve got some talent on that team.”
Notably Wright and Keith Langford, KU’s sixth-leading scorer of all time, who scored 21 points off 8-of-13 shooting, including a pair of three-point buckets.
“Watching Keith Langford play was crazy. He’s a great player, so I can learn a lot from him,” said KU freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor, who had six points, two rebounds and an assist while trying to slow the 6-4 Italian League sensation’s drives to the hoop.
“Just how he (Langford) moves, what he does. He does things to create space to get the shots he does. I’ll try to practice that to make my game more well-rounded,” added the 6-3 Taylor.
Langford’s former KU teammate, Michael Lee, swished a three-pointer to end the game – decided by the first team to reach 75 points.
“It wasn’t me. It was our mind-set,” said new Gardner-Webb assistant coach Lee, who scored nine points. His buddy, Spanish League point guard Aaron Miles, had four points, four assists and four rebounds.
“It’s fun, but we weren’t planning to lose. It was like my career. I was around great guys who made me look good. It happened again today. I had Keith and Aaron pass me the ball, Nick Bradford (seven points) and Jeff (Hawkins, 13).”
Of withstanding the younger Jayhawks, who actually led, 41-37, at halftime, Lee said: “There was nothing to talk about. We were doing it before they were doing it. You’ve got to put that in perspective. It got a little serious. Brady made some plays for them. Cole rebounded, and Quintrell, too.”
Thomas, a 6-8, 225-pound incoming freshman, grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds to go with his 13 points off 6-of-12 shooting.
“They’re really good,” Wright said of the 2008-09 Jayhawks, who played without Sherron Collins, who is still recovering from offseason knee surgery, and Tyrone Appleton, who was working a camp in Kansas City.
Marcus and Markieff Morris and Mario Little are not entered in first semester of summer school.
“I played pick-up last night,” Wright said. “Quintrell is looking good. Tyshawn sees a lot on the court. He knows when to be aggressive. He is an attacker and a slasher. He finds his creases and attacks and has good play-making ability.”
Another attack-minded player is Roeland Park Miege’s Releford, whose six baskets in seven attempts all came off moves to the hoop.
“This was a good experience today,” Taylor said. “It gets me ready for what I’m about to experience in college. It’s my first time playing with my teammates (in a game setting). It’s a good start.”