SALT LAKE CITY — Ekpe Udoh and Royce O'Neale were on a road trip with the Utah Jazz this past week, so they weren't able to cheer on their alma mater in person while Baylor played first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games.
Baylor was on their minds while in Atlanta and Chicago, though.
"Great win Baylor!!!! Keep grindin," Udoh posted on Twitter after the Bears' win over Syracuse on Thursday.
"Big win yesterday @BaylorMBB," O'Neale tweeted Friday. "Let’s get another one Saturday!"
They were also on Baylor coach Scott Drew's mind as Baylor took on the Orange and Gonzaga playing in the same building where his former Bears work for a living.
"First of all," Drew said, "that's the best thing about being a coach — having a relationship with the players after they graduate as well."
Drew joked that he asked another Baylor alum — Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey — about the players' availability. They could have used them Saturday against the Zags, who advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 83-71 win at Vivint Arena.
"I asked Dennis, 'Could we dress Royce and Ekpe just for two games?' He said, 'No, the Jazz needed them,'" Drew said, chuckling. "We talk to them all the time."
Interactions with Jazz fans around Salt Lake City made Drew feel even better about the guys who played for him after transferring from Michigan (Udoh, 2009-10) and Denver (O'Neale, 2013-15).
"I think any parent can attest to this, when you hear people talking highly of your kids, you really feel good," Drew said. "And just from different people around town that we've met, come across, said, 'Boy, Ekpe or Royce, they're great people and they're just great role models.'
"When you hear that, it makes you even more appreciative to have the opportunity to coach them and have them represent your program."Comment on this story
Lindsey played for Baylor from 1988-92, 11 years before Drew's tenure there began, but the two have formed a relationship over the years. Lindsey's son Jake played for Baylor the past three years before injuries ended his career.
"Dennis is a Baylor guy, and that's why we're blessed to have Jake. He bleeds green and gold," Drew said. "And he is about the right things and about the same things we are. So I appreciate him."
Drew added with a laugh, "I think he's entertaining a lot of his former teammates so he might be worn out after this weekend."