Kansas Jayhawk big man Cole Aldrich will announce his intentions to enter the 2010 NBA draft today during a 3:30pm press conference according to Andy Katz from ESPN. The move was widely expected and after electing to return for his junior year, the time has come for Aldrich to make the jump and get paid.
In terms of where Cole projects in the draft the conventional thinking is that he's a surefire lottery pick. In some mock draft projections Cole has been listed as high as 6th prior to the NCAA tournament.
The biggest knock on Aldrich right now is his offensive game. His numbers were down across the board, even when adjusting for the fact that he’s playing 3 minutes less per game. Aldrich is scoring less (16.3 per-40 pace adjusted compared to 19.9 last season), grabbing fewer rebounds, is less efficient (converting 56% of his 2-pointers compared with 60% last season) and has seen his free throw percentage take a hit as well(from 79% to 68%).
Certainly scouts will have to take into account the improvement of Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris on the interior, along with the addition of Xavier Henry to the mix when evaluating what he's truly capable of offensively.
That said there is no denying the uptick in production on the defensive end where Cole averaged 5.2 blocks per-40 minutes this season, compared with 3.6 last season. Cole is a game changer in the middle and that's the most attractive thing from any NBA teams perspective when looking at Cole.
Aldrich is viewed as a player that could be a solid long term role player in the middle for a team in the NBA. Aldrich projects as a significant presence in the paint defensively and on the glass, but most teams won't be expecting him score much more than what his guards are able to create for him around the basket.
Aldrich maakoutde the unselfish decision to return to Kansas in '09-'10. After a bre sophomore season the prevailing attitude was that he had the potential to be both the defensive presence and an offensive threat. That belief may have dwindled with his junior year but Cole is still a lottery selection and a long term fit for someone in the NBA.
When electing to return after his sophomore year Cole said it wasn't about just getting to the NBA, it was about getting there and staying there. Whoever drafts Aldrich knows what they are getting and more than likely Cole will be in a good position to contribute and support his family for several years to come. Best of luck to Cole from all Kansas fans, and whatever organization and city is lucky enough to add him to their roster is getting both a solid player and a genuinely great person.