Based on his play at the ABCD Camp, Cole Aldrich has made huge strides in handling his business on and off the court. The 6-11 C hasn't been a dominant performer at the camp, but he has been one of the most rugged, and as the pace slows and shoe camp events give way to the organization and pace of college hoops, his contributions will increase significantly.
Aldrich is making his second tour of duty at ABCD, and his perspective has changed significantly since last year.
"It's nice to be here this year and to be committed," Aldrich said. "Last year I felt like I needed to make the college coaches want me, and it was like I had to play for everybody. This year it's a different type of hungry, and the only people I have to prove anything to are the Kansas coaches."
Aldrich obviously doesn't have to prove that he belongs -- one look at his massive, powerful frame answers that question -- but now it's a matter of pride.
"I just want to show the KU staff that this is what I have to offer and that I'm still improving," Aldrich said. "Greg Oden is gone and I wish he was still here, but there are lots of other guys who put up a challenge."
Of course, prior to ABCD, Aldrich had been criticized at times by fans and the media for poor play. While he isn't oblivious to the naysayers, the burly big man has soldiered through it the maelstrom.
"Yeah, I heard all that (criticism)," he said. "I don't read that stuff much but do read a little, and I saw it. But when I wasn't playing well, all I had to worry about was getting back into the gym, working hard and getting better. My health is a lot better now than it was."
As for his role next year, Aldrich recognizes the hurdle of trying to get playing time for such a stacked team, but he's eager to take his shot.
"You know, I'm not worried how the minutes work out," he said. "I'll just do whatever my coaches want me to do. Rebound, set screens, whatever. And next year if they want me to cheer, I'll just cheer. I just want to be there."