Basketball or Bust

KU's latest signee Cole Aldrich wasn't dreaming of donning the crimson and blue throughout his childhood, but the outstanding 2007 center tells how he went from sports nut, to NBA hopeful.

There are tons kids all over the country with hoop dreams -- dreams of playing college basketball at schools like Kansas or even at the next level in the NBA. Cole Aldrich wasn’t one of those kids.

The 6-11 center from Bloomington, MN spent most of his childhood, well, being a kid.

“I played every sport under the sun. I bowled Saturday morning, I played basketball, played soccer, football, baseball, golf, and I biked around. I mean there wasn’t anything I didn’t do,” Aldrich stated.

It wasn’t until the 7th grade that Cole even entertained the notion of playing college basketball.

“Growing up I never really had a dream school. I think 7th grade was really the year I mainly started focusing on basketball,” said Aldrich who received his first letter from the University of Arizona.

By then his thinking started to change.

“These other sports are great to play. I’ll them in my free time with my buddies and what-not but I think I’m going to stick to basketball. Hey, maybe I can get a scholarship and a free education out of it. Now it’s kind of like hey, maybe my career is basketball,” concluded Cole.

So like many of his predecessors, Cole realized being paid to play the game you love is not a bad way to earn a living and it’s something he thinks about quite often.

“Oh, definitely. I’d be lying if I said I never thought about it,” said Cole. “I was watching the NBA game the other night and I was just like ‘man, in two years I could be playing out there.’

Thanks to a new NBA rule that does not allow high school seniors to make the jump Cole never really had the chance to ponder skipping college for the NBA.

“It’s like, wow, I had that opportunity to do that. I could’ve been one of those guys 18 years old playing against guys that are almost twice my age, making a living off it, and having a real good time playing the sport I love to play.”

Aldrich realizes his time will come and playing in the spotlight for one of the nation’s premiere college hoops program is the perfect way for him to showcase his evolving skills. It’s not a bad way for a teenage to bide his time.

For now, the NBA remains in the future. Cole allows himself to dream about a career competing at the highest level, but is very focused on ending his senior year on a positive note. Aldrich’s Jefferson High squad starts practice November 16th and his first game is scheduled for December 6th.

“We look pretty solid right now. We’ve been playing a lot this summer. We’ve been going to workouts and just trying to get used to each other’s playing styles. We’re still kind of lacking that point guard position,” Aldrich stated. “The main point guard that was going to come tore his ACL during football season. He just had surgery last week so he’s going to be out nearly the whole season and I think it’s going to be hard for him to come back. In February or March we’re going to try and make a run so that we’re playing our best ball for him to come off an injury… I think we’re going to continue to work with our guards and just keep developing them and hopefully they can pull off something this year.”

Aldrich has been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride in 2006 marred by a stretch of injuries, and what some viewed as sub-par play. He’s determined to silence the naysayers and erase any doubt about why he’s been a wanted man in Lawrence for years.

Shortly after his senior year concludes, Aldrich heads to Lawrence to begin his career in the crimson and blue. Like Cole, Kansas fans can’t wait. Top Stories