Now, he's thinking red, white and blue.
There likely will be an opening for a post player on Team USA for next year's World Championships in Turkey and quite possibly for the 2012 Olympics in London. The Minnesota center has volunteered his services
"I would love to play for USA Basketball,'' Jefferson said Thursday in an interview with FanHouse. "I would love to play. Two summers ago (2007), I was in (Las) Vegas helping the team practice and they go off and wind up winning the (Olympic) gold medal the following year (in Beijing).
"So I already have been part of it. Then I got hurt last year, and I couldn't do much. But I would love to play with my country if they invite me.''
Jefferson, 24, almost certainly would have been selected to be one of the 22 young players for USA Basketball's minicamp last summer in Las Vegas had he not injured his right knee.
"I'm feeling good,'' Jefferson said. "I look at it as (being) 100 percent. I've just got to get in better shape, but that is going to hopefully come the rest of the preseason.''
Next summer, the 6-foot-10 Jefferson hopes to fill a likely opening for a big man on the World Championships team.
For last year's Olympics, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo opted to go with just three post players. He might go with a fourth for Turkey.
Orlando's Dwight Howard and Toronto's Chris Bosh are looking good for two of the spots. But Colangelo recently told FanHouse that Utah's Carlos Boozer, the third post player on the Olympic team, will join Tayshaun Prince and Michael Redd as Olympic holdovers who "will have competition'' to retain their spots.
When it comes to up-and-coming NBA post players, the list is not long. Other candidates include Portland's Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge, New York's David Lee, the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin, New Jersey's Brook Lopez and Utah's Paul Millsap.
If he remains healthy, Jefferson, who averaged 23.1 points and 10.0 rebounds in 50 games last season before being hurt, could be regarded as a more desirable option than any of those.
"I think he'd be excellent for (USA Basketball),'' said Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis. "Players today just don't play the way that Al plays. There's just not too many big guys that play and are comfortable and have the offensive prowess that he has with his back to the basket. I think he'd be tremendous (for USA Basketball). That's always a threat in any offense when you have somebody that's that capable that close to the basket.''
Rambis said Jefferson tweaked an ankle in practice earlier this week but his "knee isn't bothering him at all.'' With Jefferson expected to be fully ready by the Oct. 28 regular-season opener, Rambis wants Jefferson to take another step this season.
"I'm asking him to do a lot of things that have never been asked of him,'' Rambis said. "Step away from the basket, be able to put the ball down on the floor, be able to let the offense run through him, involve his teammates ... and just stepping up his defense. In a lot of respects, at times (last season) he saved himself on the defensive end (for offense). ... He's got to make that commitment to shore up our defense.''
Jefferson also hopes to help shore up the inside for Team USA.
"Who wouldn't want to?'' said Jefferson, who perhaps was not paying close attention as late as 2004, when numerous top players weren't interested in playing. "If they invite me, I'd be happy to do it.''
Colangelo has told FanHouse he will assemble a list of 25 candidates for the World Championships by the end of the fall. The list will be pared to 14 to 16 players being invited to training camp next July in Las Vegas. Twelve ultimately will be picked to play in Turkey.
Vegas odds might suggest Jefferson has a solid chance to be wearing red, white and blue.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com.