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March 29, 2010

Aldrich headed to the NBA

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Cole Aldrich has played his last game as a member of the University of Kansas men's basketball team. Just moments ago, the 6-foot-11, 250-pound center from Bloomington, Minn., announced his intentions to forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the 2010 NBA draft. On Monday afternoon, Aldrich, with a room full of reporters in attendance, talked about his decision to make the jump from big-time college basketball to the NBA.

Midway through his high school career at Bloomington (MN) Jefferson, Cole Aldrich committed to Bill Self and Kansas. The 6-foot-11, 250-pound center put an end to his recruitment by verbally committing to the Jayhawks on Tuesday, October 1, 2005. Had it not been for a scheduled test and other academic obligations at the beginning of the week, the announcement would have likely been made sooner.

Early on, it became clear that Aldrich, without any question, was sold on playing at Kansas. He thought about playing at Minnesota and when Roy Williams offered him a full ride to attend North Carolina, Aldrich gave that some thought, too.

However, at the end of the day, his heart was set on playing for Self and the Jayhawks.

For Aldrich, there just wasn't another option to consider.

"I have made my final decision and I am going to attend the University of Kansas," said Aldrich back on November 2, 2005. "I am so excited about my decision and I am looking forward to playing for Coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks. I also told myself that I would never really know when I was going to make this decision. It could have been a year from now, or it could have happened on Monday night, which was my birthday.

"It did happen on Monday and I couldn't be happier," he added. "I called Coach Self early on Monday and let him know of my decision to attend Kansas. "I knew that I was never going to be able to concentrate at school without calling him. I decided to call Coach Self at 7:30 on Monday morning, and he was speechless at first."

On the hardwood, Aldrich was as good as advertised during his three year career at Kansas. As a freshman, he appeared in 40 games and averaged 2.8 points and three rebounds per game. Aldrich had his coming out party against North Carolina in the Final Four.

In 17 minutes of action, Aldrich scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and swatted four shots. During his time on the court, the Minnesota native simply dominated Tyler Hansbrough.

As a sophomore, Aldrich averaged 14.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. In earning First Team All-Big 12 honors, he scored in double-figures 29 times and pulled down double-digit rebounds 23 times. In the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Aldrich scored 13 points, pulled down 20 rebounds and blocked 10 shots against Dayton.

This past season, Aldrich averaged 11.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game. He scored in double-figures 25 times and grabbed 10 or more rebounds 19 times. Defensively, Aldrich was a force to be reckoned with in the paint.

Aldrich had five blocks against Memphis, five against LaSalle, five against California, six against Belmont, seven against Missouri, five against Colorado, six against Texas, five against Texas A&M, five against Colorado, and five against Lehigh.

During his three seasons at Kansas, Aldrich started his sophomore and junior campaigns. He was a two-time All-Big 12 First Team selection in 2009 and 2010. Aldrich 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 a game inside 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.

Now, Aldrich is looking forward to taking the next step forward in his career.

"I just want to thank everybody for coming here," said Aldrich. "All the guys on the team and all my favorite media people, coaches and everybody, I just want to thank everybody for coming here. Like coach (Self) said, my decision is that I am going to enter the NBA draft. First of all, I want to thank everybody for the opportunity I've had here. It's been a fun one - I don't want to get too choked up or anything - the last three years have been pretty special. A lot of highs and a few lows - this summer with my grandma - it's just a special time for me and my family.

"I really had talked to them extensively, and we went though some of the same process last year," he added. "We just had to figure out what I wanted to do. Whether I wanted to come back and have another great year here, or I felt the time has come in my life to change the chapter. It's exciting and it's a little nerve-racking, but most of all, I'm just going to have fun."

Leaving the door ever so slightly open to return simply isn't something Aldrich is going to consider. His decision to forgo his final year of eligibility is final. While he hasn't hired an agent at this time, it's only a matter of time before that takes place.

"No I don't," said Aldrich when asked if he has an agent. "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.

"It would be a good choice to do," he added when talking about hiring an agent. "There is the option of not doing it, but I think everybody around me has pushed me to do that."


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