LaMarcus Aldridge on Texas: "I like Texas. It's a good school, good academics, plus they said I could play the 3 and 4 position which is what I want to play. That's my game. I can dribble and shoot from that position more than I can at the post. And (getting the opportunity to play small/power forward) is important to me in the selection process. Texas also has great players and great coaches and they've really been recruiting well. Plus I think I'll fit in great there."
Those words from Aldridge sounded genuine and it came across as Texas certainly being tough to beat. However, all five schools in the envious position to grab one of the nation's top-ranked baller's official visits stand on equal footing with regard to the ultimate equalizer; a chance to build that all-important weekend relationship during Aldridge's official visit, not to mention...
...Billy Donovan has all of Gainesville Gator-chomping with Florida's recent ascent to national power status and the Gators are actually in pretty good shape to land the 6-11, 225-pound man-child as well.
"Florida?" Aldridge said, pausing for a moment, "Great coaches, great players, great program, great facilities. I camped at both Texas and Florida so I got a chance to see Florida and they have nicer facilities. Even though Texas is building a new facility for their basketball team, Florida already has a state-of-the-art facility. And the Florida coaches are telling me I can go in and start at the 3 or 4 if I continue to work hard and continue what I'm doing. I like Florida too."
Aldridge on basketball giant UNC: "Great school, great program and great tradition. They've been one of my favorites since I was a little kid. I even took an unofficial there. So they're up there. They have great facilities and coaches too. My love for the Tarheels is strong."
The lure of tradition Kansas offered Daniel Gibson simply was not enough for him to spurn the new tradition Texas has built with T.J. Ford and Co., but will the lure of Chapel Hill be strong enough to export Aldridge from the Lone Star State? And could it be strong enough to fight off Donovan's Gators?
One thing you can reasonably expect is for the Tarheel faithful to come out in droves when Aldridge officially visits, hoping to show Aldridge more love than any other school's rabid round-ball fanatics. That simply cannot be underestimated. Of course, isn't it harder for the fans to gather if Aldridge trips to the various schools when basketball is in its off-season?
Still, UNC's fans will be creative in their attempts regardless of when he embarks on his official to North Carolina. After all, the 'Heels do have that word "tradition" attached permanently to their program and it definitely doesn't hurt Matt Doherty's chances that they're the Texas prep's childhood favorite.
Perhaps bringing up the rear are Miami and Ga. Tech, but are they really that far behind?
"Miami's actually doing pretty good this year and I think their future looks good," Aldridge, who averaged 2 steals, 1 assist and 4 turnovers a game, told IT. "I called them, so I'm definitely looking at them. I like their coaches and I just want to check them out."
As for Georgia Tech, "They're a good team and I just like the way Chris Bosh is looking as a true freshman for them right now," the 6-11 Seagoville hoops star said. "I like the way they're letting him play. And with Bosh, they're going to be good for a few years."
The early and successful development of Bosh has the attention of the Dallas-area prep. And that's a little interesting, especially when you consider Gibson also took an official trip to Atlanta.
So, those five signify the favorites as Aldridge and his support group begins to look at setting up official visit dates.
But that's not the only thing looming large for Aldridge. Another decision with plenty of options exists as the AAU leagues are still trying to learn which team will have him sportin' their hightops and, more importantly, their name. Essentially, the sole rights to Aldridge's services have several select AAU teams jockeying for face time and/or ear time in the quest to say, "We Got LaMarcus Aldridge".
"Look, it's really political," said Aldridge who wasn't even comfortable naming the names of any potential AAU circuit teams he may or may not want to play on. "I'm going to make that decision later when my mom and coach sit down with me. At this point, we decided that we weren't going to name anybody yet."
The world of high school/amateur hoops is a strange animal and features a unique set of written and unwritten rules. The secretive aspect of it may not be so secret, but the AAU team that scores Aldridge will have earned it, that's for sure. And who really knows what actually goes on behind closed doors with shades drawn?
A shot aimed at the AAU leagues?
Certainly not. The process is just a little intriguing to IT. At least in what the "political" aspects really encompass.
And finally, what basketball diehards would like to know...
How much, if any, impact does Daniel Gibson's verbal commitment have in terms of Aldridge's future destination? And just when does the national top ten prospect intend on making his decision? Part three coming later...