Year in Review: CJ Aiken

Last week, Saint Joseph's announced to that junior forward CJ Aiken would be bypassing his senior season on Hawk Hill to pursue a professional career. Today, Hawk Hill Hardwood takes a look back at the shot-blocking junior's career, and looks ahead to what next year could look like without him in the starting lineup.

C.J. Aiken, the 6'9 200-pound forward, began his career on Hawk Hill with lofty expectations. In only his fourth collegiate contest, he notched 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 blocked shots in a win against Fairfield. As a freshman, Aiken showed flashes of brilliance and great promise, averaging 7.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.5 blocked shots per game.

Those numbers made an impressive jump during his sophomore campaign. In a blowout home win over Drexel, Aiken had 13 points and 9 blocked shots, in essence taking the ballgame over from the defensive end. He was named the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year, once again averaging 3.5 blocked shots per game, and showing improvements on the offensive end, averaging 10.9 points and 5.1 rebounds as well.

This past season, Aiken and the Hawks had lofty expectations placed upon them. They were voted preseason favorites to win the Atlantic 10. Aiken was on the radar of a number of NBA front offices due to his improvements and his remarkable upside.

CJ still showed those flashes of brilliance as a junior, but NBA scouts looking for marked improvements in his game were frequently left scratching their heads. Aiken still had moments where he appeared to be a legitimate first-round draft pick. He had 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks in a high-scoring tilt with Iona. He had one of the top dunks in the Atlantic 10 this year in a road loss at Dayton. There was, however, quite a bit of inconsistency once again this year.

CJ Aiken will now look to either find a spot on an NBA roster next year, either through the draft or through free agency, or find a spot to play professionally abroad. What does his departure mean for the Hawks?

Barring any currently unexpected changes, the Hawks will have six players on next year's roster capable of manning the four and five spots. Rising seniors Ron Roberts and Halil Kancevic look to be your starting frontcourt players. Junior Papa Ndao, sophomore Isaiah Miles, redshirt freshman Javon Baumann, and true freshman Jai Williams will provide depth at those two positions.

From a depth standpoint, the Hawks still have plenty of bodies in the frontcourt, and two high-caliber players in Kanacevic and Roberts. Papa Ndao showed flashes of ability this year, as did Isaiah Miles, early in the season before he saw himself relegated to the bench. Their development this summer could be critical to the Hawks' success next year.

Jai Williams, who has given SJU a verbal commitment but not a signed Letter of Intent yet, looks like a prime candidate for a redshirt next year, although nothing has obviously been decided there yet. With five players ahead of him on the depth chart, and given his youth and upside, redshirting the Philadelphia Electric (PA) post seems like a logical decision.

CJ Aiken was a crown jewel on Phil Martelli's 2010 recruiting class. He, Ron Roberts, Daryus Quarles, and Langston Galloway walked onto Hawk Hill in the fall of 2010 with lofty expectations, and they did meet a number of them. As freshmen, they lost 20 games, but turned things around as sophomores, winning 20 games and earning a spot in the NIT. This year, they once again returned to the NIT, where they lost to Saint John's on a buzzer-beater by Sir'Dominic Pointer.

With his Hawk career in the rear view mirror, CJ Aiken will look forward to his next step. Whether he is playing professionally in the NBA, in Europe, or elsewhere, Aiken has a skill set and a unique ability to block shots that should make him a handsome salary in the years to come. He provided Hawk fans with three years of highlight reel dunks and blocked shots. The Conshohocken, Pennsylvania native certainly left his mark on Hawk Hill.

Hawk Hill Hardwood Top Stories