Last season's freshman class on Hawk Hill featured a number of heralded recruits. At the top of that list was 6'9 C.J. Aiken. During his freshman campaign at Saint Joseph's, Aiken showed flashes of great potential.
For the season as a whole, Aiken averaged 7.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and an impressive 3.5 blocks per game. He registered nine blocks twice last season, against both George Washington and La Salle. This season, the Hawks will look for CJ to make a jump in productivity.
The term upside is thrown around in the game of basketball very loosely. With Aiken, this season is all about potential meeting productivity. That potential, however, is nearly limitless.
"I always feel the sky is the limit," Saint Joseph's assistant coach Dave Duda said about his sophomore big man. Duda works extensively with the Saint Joseph's frontcourt players. "He is the only player in the gym (at Saint Joseph's) who possesses the ability to do something no one else can do in practice each day."
Last season, Aiken began the year in the starting lineup, but ultimately lost that starting job to fellow freshman forward Ron Roberts. The Hawks lost forward Idris Hilliard to graduation, which frees up another spot in the starting lineup. Between Aiken, Halil Kanacevic, and Ron Roberts, the Hawks are likely to find two starters, with the third man first off the bench.
Despite his tremendous ability, Aiken is still learning things on the court. CJ has "really improved his basketball IQ, and now realizes that he is an elite defender," Coach Duda said. "His pace is now that of a high-level A-10 player."
Whether CJ Aiken finds himself in the starting lineup Friday night against Western Kentucky or not, one thing is for certain. In order for the Hawks to build on last season's late success, Aiken will need to remain a shot-blocking presence in the paint, and also improve offensively and on the boards. The addition of Halil Kanacevic, with his strength and toughness, could open things up around the basket for Aiken. Many are still looking for CJ's potential to meet his productivity. He gets a chance, starting on Friday, to do exactly that.
Player Profile: CJ Aiken
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