If you've followed Kansas basketball closely you're very familiar with the development Kansas junior Cole Aldrich has undergone. He started out as a relatively raw freshman who developed into a player who was ready to contribute to KU's title run in San Antonio. His stellar performance against North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough will not be forgotten. But from a wide-eyed freshman struggling to get a grasp on big-time Division I basketball he transformed into one of the best centers in the country.
Now, after giving KU an extra year when he could've played for cash
after last season, Aldrich determined it was time to take the next
step. Monday, the 6-11 Bloomington, Minnesota native sat in front of
the media with his head coach at his side and announced he will enter
the 2010 NBA Draft finally getting to realize a dream he's had since
the fifth grade.
"I think he's paid his dues here and I think it's time for him to move
forward into another chapter," Self stated. "He's made a lot of
sacrifices, as his family has, to come back in a time where he didn't
have to. We're all very proud of him."
"First of all I want to thank everybody for the opportunity that I've
had here. It's been a fun one. I don't want to get choked up or
anything but the last three years have been pretty special," Aldrich
continued as he held back tears. "A lot of highs a few lows this summer
with my grandma but…it's a special time for me and my family I really
had talked to them extensively we went through somewhat of the same
process last year of figuring out what I wanted to do."
"No, I didn't go that strong. But it's time," Self answered when asked
if he had to tell Cole not to come back. "In everyone's decision making
process, there's a time when you're at a crossroads and wonder if
you're prepared and wonder what's best for your family and everyone.
This was an easy decision in my opinion. Although there are emotional
strings I'm sure that pull at Cole. This was an easy decision from my
perspective, and one that we should all view as a happy decision as
Every discussion and every talk led to forgoing his senior season. If
you operated inside the Kansas circle you knew this day was coming and
that the decision was likely a pretty easy one for all parties
involved. This was not a decision that was questioned or even
unexpected. It was also not a decision based on the number where the
Bloomington, Minnesota native might hear his name called in late June.
"I really haven't heard too much about where I am going to go," though
one site projects Aldrich might even go to his hometown Minnesota Timberwolves as the final pick in the lottery. "I am hoping to go
really high—hopefully a lottery pick. I'm really just going to take the
workouts from here on out to the end of the draft to ensure that I put
myself in the best position to help whatever team I go to be
"I think that is almost irrelevant right now. I think that we all know
he's going to go pretty high. Whether he's going to go five or 14, I
don't really know," said Self adamantly.
A lot depends on who goes where and which teams might need a big man.
Aldrich has not hired an agent yet and if you don't hire an agent you
always have the option of coming back to school. However, Self stressed
that whether Cole hires an agent or not will be dependent on his
comfort level but with or without an agent the decision has been made
and is final.
"I'm going to meet with a few people and a few groups here in the next
week or so, but I don't have any favorites. I'm still undecided about
that," said Aldrich speaking about his decision-making as far as an
agent goes. "As of right now I think that it would be a good choice to
make. There is that option of not doing it, but I think everybody
around me has pushed me to do that."
Cole leaves with an NCAA Championship ring and an unblemished record at
home (55-0) and just four blocks short (254) of Greg Ostertag's KU
record for blocked shots (258). The news also comes on the heels of
being chosen AP third team All-American. He averaged 11.2 ppg, and 9.8
rpg and never let his goal of reaching the NBA or the decision that
faced him after the season affect his play. Aldrich has given
everything to the Kansas program including an extra year that he
certainly didn't have to give. But sitting in front of his teammates,
coaches, and friends and saying this was it was not easy.
"I felt that my time has come in my life to change the chapter and just
go from one great chapter to hopefully starting another great chapter
in life. It's exciting, it's a little nerve-wracking but most of all
I'm just going to have fun. Take in all the experiences that these guys
have given me the past three years. I wouldn't trade anything for these
guys. They're a little goofy, a little crazy, but we have a lot of fun
and that's the main reason why I came back to school was just to have
another fun year and just to be around everybody that I love."
Kansas will now say goodbye to its two unquestioned leaders and two
National Championship leftovers in the same year. While senior Sherron Collins will collect his diploma in May Aldrich will end the semester
16 credits shy of a degree but has promised his coach that he will
return to accomplish that goal. If you know Aldrich rest-assured the
Academic All-American of the Year will stay true to his word.
"He's going to go ahead and finish up school and get his degree, he's
promised us that. But you're proud of all your players all the time.
You're especially proud of someone who sacrifices a lot to give your
university a chance to be better and Cole has certainly done that,"
Much like Collins, Aldrich leaves with no regrets about what has
transpired on the court and departs Lawrence a better man off of it.
"I told Tyrel (Reed) the other night in the room that as much as it
hurts not going to practice (after being knocked out of the
tournament), I wouldn't change it for the world. I had an absolute
blast. Not only did I mature as a player, but I definitely matured as a
man," Aldrich said.
"We're really proud of the young man that he's become. He's represented
himself and his school in a way that has been nothing but first class,"
"It really gives me a lot of confidence not only in myself, but also to
my family. Our comfort level around Coach has been tremendous. We've
gone through a lot and Coach has always been there to help us out
through that. To have him say he feels not only my game on the court,
but my personality and my maturity off the court is ready for it, we
really respect that a lot," Aldrich added.
Kansas will miss an engaging, bright young man off the court and 6-11
presence on the interior on it. They are certainly big shoes to fill
but everyone is entitled to follow their dreams and Aldrich has more
then earned the right.
Aldrich Tough To Replace
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