Cole Aldrich at McDonald's All-American Game

If you can't get excited about a brief report from a practice for an exhibition game, then you're probably not a college basketball fan. (And if you can't feel a little silly for getting excited about same you're probably monitoring multiple message boards while reading this.) From Rodger Bohn at DraftExpress:

"Aldrich was one of the bigger surprises on day one, seemingly converting at least 80% of the shots that he put up from the field. He boasts a soft touch inside, while also knocking down multiple 15-18 foot jump shots on the day. The Minnesota native finished some surprisingly athletic conversions inside, given his immense size. If he is able to continue playing like this, he will certainly be able to help the Jayhawks out next year as a freshman, given the possibility of them losing Julian Wright and/or Darrell Arthur to the NBA."

I think the final sentence speaks of a remote possibility and it will be hard for Aldrich to earn minutes next year, though it would be lovely if he played well enough to force the issue.

UPDATE: Day Two report from Rodger Bohn:

"Aldrich continued his hot streak from day one, as nearly everything he put up somehow managed to find its way through the net. He hit two three pointers, leaving Kevin Love openly shaking his head in disbelief. The Minnesota prep star ran the floor well and finished well inside, playing with a passion that was non-existent for so many stretches of time on the AAU circuit. It will be interesting to see if Cole is able to keep it up for the remainder of the week and continue to live up to the outstanding potential that he has."

Great Cole Aldrich Article

I'd kind of pigeon holed Cole for some reason, but I like his attitude. Plus, if you rearrange the letters of his name, you can spell "Rich Old Lace" or "Chalice Lord." Which of you could possibly argue with that? link

ALDRICH: DOMINANT

With the help of his 7-foot-5 wingspan, Aldrich has averaged almost four blocks a game over his four-year prep career.

"Playing strong defense, blocking shots and stopping possessions is a big part of who I am,'' Aldrich said.

Even if Aldrich isn't able to block a shot, his wingspan and athleticism often force opponents to alter shots. He has developed an ability to block the ball and take possession rather than swatting the ball into the stands. Knocking the ball out of bounds might draw raves, but it also allows the opponent to maintain possession of the ball.

"Blocking shots is like a lost art,'' Aldrich said. "As I've gotten older, I've gotten smarter. I used to commit a lot of fouls earlier in my career, but now I'd like to think that I stay out of (foul) trouble because I am wiser.''

In his one meeting against Oden, Aldrich figured he had nothing to lose.

"He was the stud of the camp; he was the top dog picking on all of those other players,'' Aldrich said.

"If he beats me, he is still the top guy. If I take his (rear) out, I've got everything to gain. I met him at the top of the three-point line and made him work hard to wear him out. I figured he might get 20 (points) on me, but he will earn it. He'd have to bust his (butt) to get it. I maybe gave up one or two dunks to him. I take that as a victory. He is a big, powerful kid.''

Aldrich, Bloomington Jefferson's all-time leading scorer, also is dominant on offense. He averages 22.5 points and 17 rebounds a game.

"Cole can change a game with his physical presence and athleticism,'' Jefferson coach Jeff Evens said. "Easy baskets out of half-court offense are not easy for our opponents because of his presence in the post. He has good timing for contesting shots.''

Jayhawk Invitational Thoughts

I was away this weekend, so I didn't get to check out any of the games, but I was pleased to hear Travis Releford enjoyed his time here:

"I like the lights and the fans," Releford said. "There's a whole lot of people giving me hype."

I think we've got a really good shot at Releford for 2008. We're closed and very tied in with him, and we should have some vacancies.

I'm a little concerned to hear that Cole Aldrich continues to struggle with injuries. He had a stress fracture earlier in the year which nearly caused him to miss most of last season, and he's having foot issues now. Additionally, he had to be hospitalized for bruised ribs.

Hopefully, his frame will get a bit stronger so this isn't a lingering issue moving forward.

Tyrel Reed also played this weekend, drawing yet more comparisons between himself and former Jayhawk great, Kirk Hinrich. I'd love to hear impressions from anybody that was lucky enough to attend the event.

Oh, and a belated Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers who read the Phog Blog.

Link to LJW article on the JIT.

Cole Aldrich Recruiting Update

PB reader Peter sends in this update

6'11 C Cole Aldrich, junior, Bloomington Jefferson - committed to Kansas - (Scout.com #8)

Aldrich was the guy that many people came to watch. Given his lofty standing in the national recruiting rankings and his early commitment to Kansas, one could call him the top prospect in the state of Minnesota. The first thing you notice about Aldrich is his jaw-dropping frame. He's not a millimeter short of 6'11, and weighs at least 250 pounds. This is a guy that would be playing on the line of a football team somewhere if he wasn't 6'11. Keep in mind, some kids of this size are all flab at the high school level. Aldrich is as muscular as they come.

The results within the game weren't as stunning. Aldrich is rarely involved in the offense, as the Jefferson coaches utilize a perimeter-oriented system. He only took 6 shots on the afternoon, and the majority of those were on offensive rebounds (there was also a crowd-raising fast break dunk). Aldrich still needs a lot of work with his stamina and conditioning, as he was forced to go to the bench a bit more regularly than Jefferson certainly would have liked. Nonetheless, Aldrich made a major impact on this game. Keaton Nankavil is a 6'8 fellow member of the 2007 top 100, and he might as well have been 6'2. He really bothered Nankavil in the second half, emphatically blocking several of his shots.

In the end, it is clear that Aldrich is very much a talented work in progress. The light bulb is just now coming on in regards to post offense, and he will have to run the floor quite a bit better at Kansas. Nevertheless, Cole Aldrich has the size that was rarely seen on a college court before the age limit. There will be few in even the Big Twelve that will be able to keep him from doing whatever he wants in the paint. As the skill and mentality come along, Aldrich has a chance to be a very special player.

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