Cole Aldrich, who’s now a high school junior, has been a hot commodity since the 8th grade. But as the summer came to an end, he decided it was time to trim a large list of schools down to a more manageable trio. Kansas, Minnesota and North Carolina were the schools left standing.
Though Carolina possessed the powerhouse pedigree, and Minnesota had been the first “in” on Cole’s recruitment, Kansas always had a leg up on this race. The Jayhawks made quite an impression on Cole thanks in part to Head Coach Bill Self and his relationship with Aldrich.
“I think it’s just how he doesn’t beat around the bush. He’s straight up with people and what he’s going to tell them. I mean he’s not going to say ‘oh you’re a great player’ if you’re not. He’s going to speak his mind and I guess if you don’t like it then so be it I guess,” said Aldrich who has known Self since a visit to campus two years ago. “I think it was just he didn’t really have to speak for the program himself. The program spoke for itself.”
Clearly Aldrich was the KU staff’s top target from the class of 2007, and the talented center knew it.
“I definitely felt that because they’ve been around since the beginning of my freshmen year. It’s a great feeling being on top of their priority list,” Aldrich stated.
In September, Phog.net asked the always personable Aldrich when to expect an announcement on his college choice.
“I want to say maybe after this next summer – maybe in a year or so. But it may not happen. I mean tomorrow I may just feel like I want to end it and I may commit tomorrow! I couldn’t tell you a specific time I guess,” said Aldrich in an interview conducted over a month ago.
Monday Scout.com’s top-ranked 2007 center concluded the time was finally right to announce his school of choice. The Bloomington, MN native saw no reason to prolong his recruitment and picked up the phone to inform Self he wished to spend his college career in crimson and blue.
“He (Self) was kind of speechless at first (laughs) and then he said ‘this is great,” said a smiling Aldrich. “I felt two days ago that Kansas was the right place and I didn’t want to keep leading the schools on that I didn’t feel like I was really going to go to. I just kind of wanted to get the process over with and spend some time working on my game for the upcoming season and senior year too.”
Though Cole is committing two years before he will slip on a Kansas uniform, he’s confident about the reasons he wants to spend his basketball career lacing his sneakers up in Lawrence.
“There are a lot of reasons I chose Kansas. I really bonded with the coaching staff and every time they came to see me or when I talked to them we always had good laughs. The coaching staff was a big factor,” Cole continued. “…And the fan base---people in Kansas are crazy! I definitely like that.”
Probably the reason Aldrich wants to return at a time when the Phog Allen fan-base will function at a fever pitch. All indications are Cole will pay another visit to campus for a key non-conference matchup on January 7th.
“I think we’re gonna probably get down for the Kentucky game that would probably be the best game to go out to because Kentucky is going to be a real hard game and people are just going to be crazier than ever,” said Aldrich.
Self has recruited an impressive quartet of freshmen this year and has point guard Sherron Collins coming to run the show next season. It’s a high-caliber group that Cole is has gotten to know and is looking forward to being a part of.
“It’s definitely going to be fun if they don’t make that jump after a year or two. I know them and we get along. We (Aldrich, Julian Wright and Micah Downs) sat together last year when Midnight Madness was going on and we spoke for a long time so we know each other pretty well and it’s going to make the experience even better.”
The recruiting process can easily grow tiresome and can wear on a young player but the affable Aldrich has always handled the process exceptionally well.
“It’s a great process. I wouldn’t change anything about it. It’s been going on since probably 8th grade,” continued Aldrich. “It’s fun but it’s also a great release just to get it over with and not have to think of all the things I had to think about before. Now I can just pay attention to my basketball career in my junior and senior year of high school.”
Though Cole is already the 8th ranked player in his class according to Scout.com, he’s not the type of kid to sit back and relax now that his recruitment is over. Right now the future Jayhawk is concentrating on getting better.
“I’m just working on my all-around game. If I want to succeed at the next level, which I do, I want to be someone that can be able to dribble or can shoot a 15-20 foot shot and make it on a consistent basis. It’s just more of an all-around workout and just kind of working on the footwork and just everything,” state Aldrich.
The skilled big man knows when he gets to campus in Lawrence he can expect more instruction from one of the best players to ever don a Kansas uniform – Danny Manning. Aldrich is looking forward to the opportunity to learn from the former KU standout.
“I mean it’s going to be great. I’m definitely excited about that part. I mean you name it I betcha he’s done it. All-Star and there’s all these great things. I don’t think I could work with a better person than him,” Aldrich said.