It was Cole Aldrich’s freshman year of high school when Kansas assistant Joe Dooley identified the blossoming prospect as a potential KU target. Nearly four years later, the rest as they say, is history.
Aldrich gave Self a verbal commitment more than a year ago but the fourth year Kansas coach could not comment on his 6-10 center until Cole’s letter-of-intent arrived today. Self was more than happy to reveal the reasons he was so drawn to the Bloomington, MN star.
“(There were) a lot of draws. Size, length, he’s got very long arms, touch, and then we thought he ran pretty well. Just from an athletic standpoint he was a guy we thought could make us better. We thought he had great potential. We also thought he had a high ceiling,” said Self.
Obviously size coupled with the athleticism is enough to make any high level coach salivate. But with Cole Self knew he would get the entire package.
“Once you met him and got to know him, he has a very infectious personality that would be very positive for our program,” Self told Phog.net
Aldrich chose Kansas over schools like Minnesota and North Carolina but since his verbal, Cole has gone through his share of adversity. After dealing with several nagging injuries, Aldrich did not perform up to his lofty standards throughout the spring and almost all of the summer. Several things gave Aldrich a much-needed boost – a change in AAU teams, an impressive late-summer performance at Rucker Park among his peers, and a conversation with his future coach.
“We told him. I said to him, ‘have you played well?’ And he answered ‘no’ and ‘well what’s the reason why you haven’t played as well?’ Well he was nicked up a little bit but part of the reason he admitted to was maybe he wasn’t as hungry as what he should’ve been during that particular stage because he was committed to Kansas, and everybody was patting him on the back,” Self explained. “We said this is the best thing that happened to you because now you kind of need to fight your way through it. And he fought through it and got a lot of confidence from that and I think it was the best thing that’s happened.”
It’s not easy for a high school kid to take a long look in the mirror and honestly evaluate his situation, but that’s what Cole did. Aldrich is back on track and looking forward to a successful senior campaign. Self knows there’s plenty of reasons the Jayhawk faithful will love Aldrich’s game.
“He’s a banger that’s skilled. He’s a big, big wide body that’s skilled. He knows how to play without the ball as far as using his body in the post. Fans can be excited about that. I’d say a lot of physical traits comparable to Sasha (Kaun) -- not exactly, but there are some similarities physically,” said Self.
That being said, any high school senior goes through an adjustment period when he arrives on a college campus. But Cole has a head start on what he needs to improve on before he can become an impact player for the Jayhawks.
“I think all-in-all with most big guys they develop at different stages. I think agility would be something all big guys could improve on. Certainly Coach Perkins (Jefferson High) is focusing on that, and if he does that which he has improved in greatly over the past several months, I think he’ll have a chance to step in there and have a big impact early.”
Aldrich is ranked fourth among centers from the class of 2007. Scout.com’s national recruiting director, Dave Telep offered his take on what Aldrich needs to do to become an impact player at the next level.
“To be an impact player at Kansas inside right now one of the focuses for him is getting his body healthy and doing some things to increase his athleticism and explosiveness around the bucket,” Telep continued. “Always had good touch, always was reliable inside, now as he continues to advance levels he’s going to want to try to become a little more explosive to finish in traffic a little stronger. He’s got a body that’s going to look like Paul Bunyan in a few years he’s going to be so strong he just wants to make sure he can get a little more explosive.”