Kansas Junior Cole Aldrich Declares for NBA Draft

March 29, 2010

Watch Press Conference | Aldrich Photo Gallery

LAWRENCE, Kan. – University of Kansas center Cole Aldrich declared for the NBA Draft Monday afternoon.

Aldrich played three seasons at Kansas and was a two-year starter his sophomore and junior campaigns. The 6-11 Bloomington, Minn., native was a two-time All-Big 12 First Team selection in 2009 and 2010. He was part of three Big 12 regular-season championships, two Big 12 postseason championship titles, one NCAA National Championship and two NCAA Tournament Sweet 16s while at Kansas. Aldrich never lost in Allen Fieldhouse, posting a three-year record of 55-0. His overall three-year Kansas record of 97-14 tied for the most wins in a three-year period in Kansas’ rich men’s basketball history – 97-16 from 2006-08. Aldrich was a freshman in 2008.

Aldrich, who was named Associated Press All-America third team earlier Monday, concluded his Kansas career second on the KU blocked shots list with 254 (Greg Ostertag 258 from 1992-95), ninth on the KU rebounds list with 860, tied for fifth with Nick Collison (2000-03) on the KU double-doubles list with 37 and 46th on the KU scoring list with 1,038 points.

As a freshman, Aldrich appeared in all 40 games of Kansas’ NCAA National Championship season. He averaged 8.3 minutes per game playing behind the post-play tutelage of NBA Draft picks Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun.

As a sophomore, Aldrich took over the middle for Kansas and was one of only three players in the Big 12 to average a double-double with 14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds. He recorded the first official triple-double in Kansas men’s basketball history with 13 points, 20 rebounds and a school-record 10 blocked shots in the NCAA Tournament second round against Dayton. For the 2008-09 season, Aldrich’s 21 double-doubles tied for second most at Kansas and his 94 blocked shots rank third on the KU single-season list. His 387 rebounds in 2008-09 are fourth on the KU single-season list.

As a junior this past season, Aldrich was named the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year and was KU’s first academic All-American since Ryan Robertson in 1999. He shattered the Kansas school blocked shots record with 125 and was named the Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season, a title he shared in 2009. An Academic All-Big 12 selection for the second straight year, Aldrich’s 354 rebounds in 2009-10 ranked eighth on the KU single-season list. His 15 double-doubles his junior campaign tied for eighth best along with current assistant coach Danny Manning’s 15 in 1988.

Cole Aldrich Accolades
Career Honors: 2009-10: Associated Press All-America Third Team… USBWA All-American Second Team… Big 12 Championship All-Tournament Team… Yahoo! Sports All-American Third Team… All-Big 12 First Team… Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year… Big 12 All-Defensive Team… All-Defense Team (media)… USBWA District VI… Academic All-Big 12 First Team… Naismith Trophy Midseason Candidate (top 30)… ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year… Oscar Robinson Award Finalist (by USBWA, one of 16)… Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week (Feb. 1)… Athletics Director’s and Big 12 Commissioner’s honor rolls (fall 2009)… Phillips 66 co-Big 12 Player of the Week (Jan. 4)… Wooden Award Midseason Candidate (top 30)… KU-Memphis Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase MVP… Preseason AP All-America… Preseason Co-Big 12 Big 12 Player of the Year… Preseason All-Big 12 First Team… Naismith Trophy Watch List… Preseason Wooden Award Candidate. 2008-09: Associated Press All-American Honrable Mention… All-Big 12 First Team… Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year… Big 12 All-Defensive Team… NABC District 8 First Team… Academic All-Big 12 Second Team.

Quoting Kansas Junior Center Cole Aldrich

On his decision:

“My decision is that I am going to enter the NBA draft for 2010. I want to thank everybody for the opportunity that I have 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. It’s been a lot of highs and a few lows, this summer with my grandma, but it’s a special time for me and my family. I really talked to them extensively. We went through some of the same process last year of figuring out what I wanted to do. Whether I wanted to come back and have another great year here or whether I felt that my time has come in my life to change the chapter—to go from one great chapter to hopefully another great chapter in life. It’s exciting, a little nerve racking, but most of all I’m just going to have fun. Take in all the experiences that these guys have given me the last three years. I wouldn’t trade anything for these guys. They are a little goofy and a little crazy, but we have a lot of fun. That’s the main reason why I came back to school—to have another fun year and be around everybody that I love.”

On his mindset heading into this past season:

“I kind of went to the same mindset that I did coming out of my freshman year and into my sophomore, knowing that the dream that I had as a little kid starting to play basketball in fifth grade, knowing that if I got caught up in that too much it might not happen. I really tried to just do everything I could for our team and make sure that I wasn’t worried about that.”

On if Kansas’ early exit from the tournament had him considering coming back for his senior season:

“We were all upset that it had to end so short. Being a part of a team that went and played all six games (2008) and a team that played three games last year, we had high goals, but those goals are going to be there again and I hope the team next year is going to be there again. I’m really going to support those guys. It was a little frustrating last week because I didn’t want to turn the TV on. I watched Coach on CBS and I was thinking we could be playing still. It really just took me a few days of coming to myself and talking to my family that this was the best decision for me.”

On his expectations for the draft:

“I really haven’t heard too much about where I am going to go. 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 successful.”

On if he has hired an agent:

“No I haven’t. 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.”

On if he will hire an agent:

“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.”

On if he is happy he came back for his junior season:

“Oh yeah. 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.”

On if having Coach Self’s approval and encouragement to enter the draft helped him with his decision:

“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.”

Quoting Kansas Head Coach Bill Self

Opening Statement:

“Good afternoon to everyone. I appreciate everyone taking time out of their schedule to come over here. This is something that we all knew would need to be done in terms of Cole’s announcement to determine what his future will be next year, so this day is about Cole.”

On where Cole ranks among the players he’s coached:

“Not very high right now, I thought he was coming back. I’m joking. We’ve known this was going to happen since last year. To be real candid with everybody, and I think Cole would agree with this, I would strongly discourage him from coming back. I think he’s paid his dues here and I think it’s time for him to move forward into another chapter. 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. Proud today to find out that he made third team All-American, Sherron was second team. 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. 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.”

On whether or not he had to tell Cole not to come back:

“No, I didn’t go that strong. But it’s time. 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 well.”

On how Cole stacks up in the draft:

“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. I think so much of it, and Cole will agree with this, will be dependent on other bigs in the draft and when certain teams draft in the need of a big. The other thing is, he’s got a chance to help himself this point forward in his individual workouts and he’s got to be really focused on that because I do think that is going to be really important. Regardless of where he would be projected, I think it’s the right move for him now to go ahead and enter. One other thing that I want to make sure we’re clear on, a question was asked on whether or not he was going to hire an agent. I think the thinking is that if you don’t hire an agent, you come back to school. That’s not the thinking here at all. Cole has made a decision to go and with that, if he hires and agent or doesn’t hire an agent will be totally dependant on whether he is comfortable or not. But the decision has been made for him to move on.”

On Cole’s development from freshman to sophomore year:

“The thing about Cole is, nobody that I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach has ever improved at a more accelerated rate than he has. Cole would be the first to tell you that he didn’t have the best high school senior year. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t quite the best. He came in here in not very good condition and probably thought he was in pretty good condition. (It’s not easy) for a guy to come in and lose 30 pounds immediately and work with Andrea (Strength and Conditioning coach Andrea Hudy) everyday. We had optional boxing every morning, or close to every morning, that only two or three players showed up for, and Cole never missed a session. To see how he developed and really struggled and labored the first half of his freshman year to the point he got in the Final Four where he was one of our better players. Then to see the development over the next summer to where he became one of the premier big guys in the country is a remarkable accomplishment. We’re very proud of that. He’s a good worker. He’s very coachable. He’s been a sponge and he certainly deserves all of the accolades he’s received here over the past year because of his hard work.”