Justin Wesley recently has drawn a lot of comparisons to former Kansas University basketball player Cole Aldrich.
Not Wesley’s game, but his smile.
The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Wesley had a front-right tooth knocked out during KU’s practice on Nov. 28.
Aldrich similarly had a front tooth knocked out during his sophomore year.
“On Twitter and everything, that’s all I keep hearing about is Cole references,” Wesley said. “‘Keeping the tradition going.’ That kind of stuff.”
Wesley had the tooth knocked loose by none other than ... 5-foot-11, 175-pound Niko Roberts. The sophomore walk-on, as part of the red scout team, caught Wesley with an elbow on a spin move.
“As soon as he hit me,” Wesley said. “I knew it was gone.”
Wesley jokingly said he should have guessed it might be coming. Just two weeks earlier, he accidentally broke Roberts’ nose, forcing the walk-on to wear a protective mask.
At first, Roberts was apologetic for injuring Wesley.
“But then, as it got funny,” Wesley said, “he was like, ‘Yeah, I got you back for breaking my nose.’”
Following the incident, no one was able to find Wesley’s tooth on the court. After a trip to the dentist, Wesley recovered the tooth when he went back to his apartment, as it had been caught in his dry-fit jersey.
The Fort Worth, Texas, native later had his tooth shaved down and glued back in, but it popped out again the next day when he bit into a chicken strip.
Later this week, he’ll receive a retainer with a fake tooth. He can’t have surgery to put in a permanent replacement until after the season.
“It’s more than one procedure,” Wesley said. “They have to drill in there and all this kind of stuff.”
Wesley, who has played in all nine of KU’s games this season, is averaging 2.4 points and 2.6 rebounds. He also has been efficient with his shots, making eight of 14 field-goal attempts (57 percent).
He was asked whether his toothless look might make him appear more intimidating.
“I don’t know. If I stay out of foul trouble, I’ll see. We’ll see next game,” said Wesley, who leads the Jayhawks with 30 fouls despite playing the seventh-most minutes (125).
“I don’t plan on fouling. If my man gets by me, I might just have to let him have the lay-up,” he added with a laugh.