Jazz: Aldrich invites comparisons to fellow Kansas product Ostertag

Jazz » Would-be NBA center could be Utah's first choice in draft.
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If he is the second coming of Greg Ostertag (minus the Fred Flintstone tattoo, of course), Cole Aldrich sounded Thursday as if he would embrace all the comparisons as he went through a pre-draft workout with the Jazz.

"I like to think I might be slightly better looking than Greg, but who knows?" said Aldrich, a Kansas product destined to have a future playing center in the NBA, much like Ostertag. "He's probably going to text me later too after he sees that."

"He's cool, he is," Aldrich added. "He comes around every once in a while at K.U. He's so much fun. He had a great career here."

If he is soon to follow in Ostertag's footsteps with the Jazz, Aldrich would do so as a far higher draft pick. Ostertag was taken with the 28th pick late in the first round in 1995, while Aldrich could be the Jazz's choice at No. 9 in two weeks.

Aldrich averaged 11.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks a game last season and could help fill one of the Jazz's biggest voids in bringing a defensive presence inside. Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur averaged a combined 0.77 blocks last season.

"I think for myself it's a great thing because I kind of play a physical game down low," Aldrich said. "I like to bang with the other big guys. I think a lot of teams need that big guy that loves to bang and grab rebounds, block shots."

For his part, Aldrich called the Jazz "a good fit for me," with the fans in Utah reminding him of those in Kansas. He called Jazz coach Jerry Sloan a "real tough coach, but that's awesome," and compared him to his college coach, Bill Self.

"He just expects the most out of you, to come to practice every day, put your work boots on and go hard," Aldrich said.

Walt Perrin, the Jazz's vice president of player personnel, described Aldrich as a known commodity after playing three years at Kansas and said Aldrich could step in and play right away in the NBA.

"Whether he can start or not depends on what team he goes to," Perrin said. "But he could have a long career in the league."

With Boozer possibly leaving as a free agent and Okur recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon, the Jazz could have an especially acute need for their upcoming draft pick to play immediately.

The Jazz worked out Aldrich along with Baylor forward Ekpe Udoh and Marshall center Hassan Whiteside. All three are expected to be first-round draft picks and were three of college basketball's six leading shot blockers last season.

"We know what Cole is and we know what to expect from him, which is good for the coaching staff," said Perrin, who described Aldrich as a shot blocker, a hard worker, a smart player and a physical player.

Although he's not 7-foot-2 like Ostertag, Aldrich said he thought his game was more well-rounded than Ostertag's, with better ability to run the floor and shoot from the outside. There are some questions about Aldrich's size, though. Aldrich measured 6-foot-9 without shoes at the NBA's pre-draft combine last month, but he said Thursday that he consistently has measured 6-foot-11 in shoes at every workout stop and didn't anticipate any problems playing center in the NBA.

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Two weeks before the draft and the Jazz already have brought in nearly every prospect in their range at No. 9 for a workout.

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