Even though he’s just a sophomore, anybody who follows Kansas basketball is already pretty familiar with Cole Aldrich. The 6-10 BF from Bloomington (MN) Jefferson has already made a handful of unofficial visits to Kansas and will be back in town again this weekend. This time it won’t be for a visit though, he’ll be in town to play with his club team the Minnesota Magic Elite as they play in this weekend’s Jayhawk Invitational.
“I’m pretty excited, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Aldrich told Phog.Net. “Some of the other guys were asking me if we’re going to play on the main court and I told them we would and they are all like that’s cool. I was like yeah, that is cool.”
According to Aldrich, this will be the first tournament outside of his native Minnesota where he and his teammates will have played in the 17 and under division. However, they should be ready to go after winning the 16 and under division of the recent Houston Kingwood Classic.
Aldrich is honest about what people who have never seen him play should expect to see.
“I’d say that I’m more of a defensive player right now and my offensive skills are still developing,” said Aldrich. “I’ve got the strength, the other day I weighed myself and I’m almost up to 240 pounds but I’m more defensive minded right now. I think the offense will come down the road with maturity so I’m not really worried about that.”
While Aldrich says that he needs work on the offensive end, don’t let his modesty fool you because he’s got some tools in the low post. He has good touch, gets outstanding position, always squares himself to the goal and uses a set of sharp elbows to his advantage. From the sounds of it, he’s already come a long way.
“If anybody could have seen me play in like the fifth grade they would have laughed,” said Aldrich of his early days as a basketball player. “I mean they would have been on the ground crying if they heard that four years later I’d be ranked in the top 10.”
Along with high rankings comes lots of pressure to perform and plenty of scrutinizing eyes and it is something that Aldrich has learned to deal with. He’s also adjusting to playing under the careful eyes of college coaches and could be picking up another scholarship offer very soon as North Carolina looks to jump into the fray with Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State and Minnesota.
“We’re supposed to call them while we’re driving down to the tournament Thursday and I’ve heard rumors that they are going to offer me,” said Aldrich. “They’re getting up there and after winning the national championship along with the way that they featured Sean May you’ve got to think about them.”
This summer Aldrich will attend the NBA Players Association top 100 camp and Reebok’s ABCD camp. Apparently fellow class of 2007 stud O.J. Mayo told Aldrich that ABCD is the place to be and he’s looking forward to it. While Mayo seems a virtual lock to straight to the NBA, Aldrich is doing his best to avoid thinking like that.
“I do think about it a little bit, but I want to enjoy the college life for at least one year or two,” said Aldrich of the NBA. “If you go to the NBA it’s not going to be the same if you try to go back to college a few years later. I don’t want to miss out on all of the crazy memories.”
Back to focusing on this weekend, Aldrich is gunning for a title and hopes that some people will come out to watch him play. He’s also hoping a few of the current Jayhawks make it over to watch him play.
“I hope that we win the whole thing, that would be really cool and that’s my biggest thing,” said Aldrich. “Hopefully we can get some people from around town and some of the players to come out and watch.
“You know the Jayhawk towers are right across the street so maybe some of those guys will be able to come over and watch me play.”
Finally, there has been speculation on more than one occasion that Aldrich is close to committing to Kansas. According to Aldrich Kansas is still the leader, but the more he thinks about it the more he wants to take some time and make sure he is evaluating all of his options.
“I still like Kansas and I’d say that they are probably still at the top of my list,” said Aldrich. “With just being a sophomore I’ve been thinking about it and looking at the rankings and seeing some guys who have committed, I don’t know. I’ve still got five officials that I can take so I’m not going to rush it. I’m kind of just soaking it all in and it’s a lot of fun to go to these different campuses.
“Like last year we went down for the Minnesota-Wisconsin football game. It was the first time I’d ever been to an outdoor stadium and there were like 80,000 people there in red. I remember looking over and seeing all of this red and there was one guy sitting there in gold and he was just hearing it from everybody else. That kind of stuff is a lot of fun.”