Former Kansas center Cole Aldrich of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and his wife, Britt, recently returned from a mission to Peru with Starkey Hearing Foundation, a company that provides hearing aids to the needy.
“It was unbelievable. It was awesome. To help people … we had almost 1,000 people we fit for hearing aids,” Aldrich said Wednesday in an interview with radio station WCCO in Minneapolis.
He explained the process.
“You sit them down, talk to them a little bit, make them feel a little comfortable. Once you fit them and they can hear you, their eyes light up,” said Aldrich, 28, a member of KU’s 2008 NCAA championship team. “Most of the time their families are around. They are all getting excited. Some are praying for you. Some are just going crazy (in joy). It’s the most surreal thing ever to be able to go there and help people out. We try to do that as much as we can.”
Cole and Britt also took part in a 2015 Starkey mission trip to Mexico.
“It breaks your heart and warms your heart at the same time,” Cole Aldrich said of the volunteer work. “The first patient I sat with was a 98-year-old woman. It breaks your heart she’s gone so many years without hearing, but warms your heart because you know her life has changed. We’re definitely going to go to a few more (missions),” he added.
Aldrich — who was college basketball’s academic All-American of the Year as selected by CoSIDA following his junior season at KU in 2009-10 — has completed seven years in the NBA.
He was asked his pick to win the NBA Finals.
“I kind of think Golden State will (win over Cleveland),” Aldrich said. “I’m not quite sure why. I would have loved to see Boston if Isaiah Thomas didn’t get hurt … I would loved to see Boston sneak in there, kind of change things up from what people kind of knew was going to happen.”
Mason works out for Kings
Former KU point guard Frank Mason’s goal is to visit as many NBA cities as he can in advance of the June 22 NBA Draft.
“I’m trying to get in front of every team, every owner, GM, head coach, just the whole staff. I’m just trying to impress them and show what I do best, show what I’m capable of,” Mason, college basketball’s consensus player of the year, told media members Wednesday after a workout with the Kings in Sacramento, Calif.
It marked the 5-foot-11 senior’s fifth workout since the NBA Combine — the May 9-14 event in Chicago in which he competed in games and drills while also interviewing with front-office personnel of various squads.
“My toughness … that’s what every team has been intrigued by,” said Mason. He’s also had workouts with the Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz.
“I want to continue to show that’s who I am.”
On Wednesday, Mason participated in drills with fellow draft prospects Justin Jackson (North Carolina), Jordan Bell (Oregon), Kyle Kuzma (Utah), Devin Robinson (Florida) and London Perrantes (Virginia).
A reporter asked Mason if it was unusual attending the same workout as Oregon big man Bell, who blocked eight shots, grabbed 13 rebounds and scored 11 points in the Ducks’ 74-60 Elite Eight victory over the Jayhawks on March 25 at the Sprint Center.
“Not at all, man,” Mason said. “It’s actually our second workout together. We played on the same team at the NBA Combine. That’s the past. It was a great experience. We lost the game, but overall it was just a fun experience in college,” Mason added.
Mason currently is considered a likely second-round selection. Draftexpress.com and NBAdraft.net have him being chosen No. 48 (Milwaukee) and 54 (Phoenix), respectively.
“It’s a process,” Mason said. “I want to focus on the things I can control. That’s getting in the gym and getting better. My job is to get better, go out and compete every day, focus on those things and everything else will take care of itself.”
Jackson in line to be No. 2 pick?
There’s a chance former KU guard Josh Jackson could pass Markelle Fultz and/or Lonzo Ball and be taken No. 1 or 2 in the NBA Draft. Rob Dauster of nbcsports.com this week made a case for Jackson at No. 2.
“The way I see it, Josh Jackson is the the second-best prospect in this draft. I’d draft him over Lonzo Ball, and I think the gap between Markelle Fultz and Josh Jackson is smaller than the gap between Josh Jackson and Ball, who would be third on my draft board,” Dauster wrote.
“Jackson has some issues that need fixing — his jump shot, his tendency to be a space cadet defensively — and there are some valid concerns about his age (turns 21 in February) and the fact that his slender frame may not be able to hold all that much more weight, but those issues are coachable. What isn’t coachable, however, is his competitiveness, his intensity, his unselfishness, his instincts and his ability to read the game and be a playmaker, both offensively and defensively.
“He’s a gifted athlete that is going to fight — quite possibly in the literal sense — for the team that he’s on. If he puts in the time to develop his jumper, his body and his focus on the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think it’s out of the question that he could average 25 points, five boards and five assists as a shutdown wing defender.”
Coleby visits Louisiana Monroe
Former KU forward Dwight Coleby, who announced plans to transfer to a yet-to-be-determined school on May 15, made a campus visit to the University of Louisiana Monroe on Wednesday.
He said in a text message to the Star he’d be visiting Arkansas-Little Rock on Sunday. The 6-foot-9 Coleby has also visited Western Kentucky. Louisiana Monroe junior forward Travis Munnings, like Coleby, is from the Bahamas.