Sure Cole Aldrich had attended Late Night festivities at KU before. But this year his trip to Lawrence was different.
“It was different experience because I hadn’t been committed the last two times I was there. It was a different feel to it,” explained Aldrich. “Now I can totally see what to expect next year. Even the guys that have done it a few times before get a little jittery. I think it’s going to be real fun going out there.”
Less than a month from signing day, you could certainly understand why Cole allowed himself to imagine what that first trip out of the Phog Allen Fieldhouse tunnel as a Kansas Jayhawk would feel like.
“I don’t even know. It’s hard to say. I’ve never came out with so many people and such great fans. I mean we don’t have a huge fan base at our high school for basketball. It’s alright but nothing like having 16-4 screaming at you. Just going crazy,” Aldrich continued. “It’s kind of hard to put it in perspective because you’re sitting in the bleachers and what not and you’re not getting looked at by 16,000 people when you’re walking through the tunnel. I think it’s going to be a heck of an experience.”
With each passing day Cole moves closer and closer to beginning his career in the crimson and blue. Signing day certainly has his entire family brimming with excitement. On Monday, Cole’s father received the 2006-2007 Kansas media guide in his mailbox and couldn’t help but contemplate what it would be like when his son’s picture graced the cover.
Cole’s been a Kansas target since Bill Self’s first year at KU, and Aldrich has been to Lawrence more than a handful of times but if you think signing day is just another day – think again.
Aldrich received his letter-of-intent via FedEx on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning the excitement will undoubtedly hit a crescendo. Cole and his family will have a signing party at 7:15am. By 7:30am, the Kansas men’s basketball office will receive a signed letter-of-intent on their fax machine and it will be official.
“There’s no turning back now. Wednesday morning at 7:30am it’s going to be on the papers that I’m going to Kansas and I’m real excited. It’s been a verbal – a real strong verbal. No other schools have been contacting me which is real nice and I just I’m real excited. I can’t wait to get there but I also can’t wait to start my senior year of basketball here,” said Aldrich.
Of course Cole will celebrate like any other high school senior would.
“I know personally right after, I’m going to celebrate by taking my final,” said Aldrich with a chuckle. “We’ve got finals Tuesday and Wednesday. So that’s going to be my first part of celebrating -- taking a nice long test,” Cole said with a smile. “We may go out to dinner or what not. I haven’t really thought about it too much. (Signing) has kind of been stuck in my mind so much. There’s no other place for me. It’s just kind of been KU all the way
Cole’s verbal commitment came over a year ago alleviating some of the pressures of a long recruitment, but signing day will still provide a sense of relief.
“My brother was off in boot camp. He joined the marines about three-and-a-half months ago I’d say. With him leaving and going to boot camp, he was back here I want to say 3 weeks ago, now he’s gone again taking his specialized training and what not. It’s been a real crazy last three to four months and now I get to finally sign my papers and it’s going to be a relief,” said an enthusiastic Aldrich.
KU’s first 2007 signee also has a preview of what Kansas fans can expect from the highly touted center.
“I’m just going to give it my all. Whatever the coaches want me to do. If the coaches want me to get 20 boards a game, I’m going to try my best to get 20 boards a game or whatever the coaches ask me to do and what’s best for the team. If I gotta get 20 boards for us to be national champions then I’m going to try my damn best to get those 20 rebounds a game,” said Aldrich.