Former Bloomington Jefferson standout Cole Aldrich, who was in Italy when he agreed to a three-year, $22 million contract with the team he grew up rooting for, met with the Twin Cities sports media and donned a Wolves jersey Thursday morning. Here are a few highlights:
*Aldrich made it abundantly clear that he is a big-time Wolves fan and was in attendance for several of the key games during their 2004 playoff run. While he noted that playing for his hometown NBA team can present additional pressure and challenges, he welcomes it. “I’ve been a Timberwolves fan all my life. You root for your city,” he said. “I’m going to do all I can to win games.”
*There was a humorous exchange between Aldrich and his father, Walter, who was in attendance. Aldrich said he texted his parents from Italy to tell them he was signing with the Wolves, but his text merely said, “I’m coming home.” Walter said he thought that meant Cole was coming back from vacation and only later realized what it really meant.
*He joked that the Wolves should add a Kansas patch to their uniforms considering their are three former Jayhawks now on the Wolves: Andrew Wiggins, Aldrich and the newly signed Brandon Rush, who played with Aldrich on the Jayhawks’ 2008 NCAA title team.
*Aldrich has a reputation as a hard-nosed player, and to prove it he pointed to a scar between his eyes. … Then he took it a step further and reached up to pull out a mouthpiece that holds in a fake tooth — showing off the sizable gap that came from playing.
*He said that while he was with the Clippers last year he “hated” guarding the Wolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns.
*The team’s young core, centered around Towns and Wiggins, drew him to the Wolves — as did the chance to play for Tom Thibodeau. Aldrich described himself as a defense-first player and thinks he will fit in well with Thibodeau’s style and system. He was just one of two NBA players last season to average 12 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks per 36 minutes.