Cole Aldrich didn’t purchase anything extravagant Thursday after signing his rookie contract with the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.
“Dinner,” the 21-year-old former Kansas University center said with a laugh.
“Actually, I just moved into a new place in Edmond that I’m leasing. Other than that, I haven’t bought anything too crazy.”
The 6-foot-11, 250-pounder was speaking Saturday afternoon outside of Mr. Goodcents Subs and Pastas, 23rd and Louisiana, where he’d spent two hours signing pictures for fans.
“You can ask all the people around me. I’m still the goofy, fun-loving guy I was before,” said Aldrich, who left school in May with just a few bucks in his pocket, returning for his weekend stay as an instant millionaire.
“I’ll always be a kid. I’m a working man, but I’ll always be a kid at heart.”
As the No. 11 pick in the 2010 Draft, Aldrich will make approximately $1,772,100 during the 2010-11 season, $1,905,000 in ’11-12 and $2,037,900 in his option season of 2012-13. He also confirmed he’s about to sign a deal with a shoe company — he didn’t reveal which one — in the next couple of weeks.
“I wouldn’t say I’m rich yet,” said Aldrich, wearing a simple T-shirt, shorts and sneakers. “I’m the same guy I’ve always been. I’m here at Goodcents, having a little fun interacting with the fans who gave me so much the last three years.
“It’s been a blast being back the last few days.”
KU’s No. 2 shot-blocker of all time wishes he could stick around another week to participate in KU assistant coach Danny Manning’s charity bowling event next Sunday at Royal Crest Lanes.
The avid bowler has a prior commitment back in his hometown of Bloomington, Minn., however.
“It’s my grandpa’s 80th birthday,” Aldrich said. “I’m going to have to send him (Manning) my regards and get him a little video of me throwing a strike.”
Aldrich has spent much more time on the court than the lanes this summer.
“I’m working really hard,” he said. “When you get drafted, things don’t just end. It’s when things start. I’m trying to make a career out of playing basketball, and I’m loving every minute of it.”
In OKC, he’ll be mentored by 29-year-old former KU power forward Nick Collison, who is beginning his eighth season — all with the same organization.
“Nick is a great guy and a guy I really like being around,” Aldrich said of the 6-foot-10, 255-pound Collison. “We have strong ties here (at KU). We went through pretty much the same things. Being in the league eight years ... he knows quite a bit more than I do.
“Not only do we have Nick on the team,” Aldrich added, “but we have a really good leader in Kevin Durant. I think it’s a great situation for me.”
Right now, things could not be going better for Aldrich. He’s thankful for that.
“I came back (to school for junior year) for the right reasons. I was able to accomplish a few of them,” Aldrich said of some of his goals, including becoming college basketball’s Academic All-American of the Year.
“Unfortunately, our season ended a little short. That’s how the (NCAA) Tournament is. You just never know.”
Aldrich averaged 11.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks a game his junior season for the 33-3 Jayhawks, who fell in the second round of the NCAAs after winning the Big 12 regular-season and postseason tourney titles.
Recruiting: Nick Johnson, a 6-foot-2 senior guard from Findlay Prep High in Henderson, Nev., will make an official visit to KU sometime in September, Johnson told Rivals.com. The country’s No. 45-rated player also has Arizona, Arizona State, Ohio State, St. John’s, Louisville and others on his list.
Adidas camp: Jonathan Givony of Draftexpress.com scouted KU’s Marcus Morris and Tyshawn Taylor on Saturday at the Adidas National Experience in Chicago: “Hate to sound like a broken record, but Marcus Morris ...not many things that guy can't do. ... Tyshawn Taylor played poorly yesterday but has rebounded nicely tonight. Some athletic finishes in transition, few pull-ups, less turnovers.” The Morris twins, Taylor, Josh Selby and Thomas Robinson are working as counselors at the tournament for top high school players.