It's been a summer of tumult for The University of Kansas, filled with anxiety over the athletic department's administration and the near-demise of the Big 12 conference. Thursday night, KU fans were given reason to celebrate again, when The New Orleans Hornets called Cole Aldrich's number with the 11th pick in the NBA Draft.
Towards the end of the first round, the Hornets traded Aldrich's rights to the Oklahoma City Thunder, a move which is sure to elate KU fans looking to catch him at the next level without having to drive out to Chicago or Denver. Aldrich will be united with former Jayhawks Nick Collison, which is icing on the cake for KU fans.
In Lawrence, Aldrich didn't play much in his freshman year, as he was planted behind Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun. On the biggest of stages, Aldrich broke onto the scene in the 2008 national semifinal against North Carolina. In a memorable rout, the center came off the bench and tore rebounds away from National Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough and blocked four shots in just 17 minutes.
The next year, Aldrich and Sherron Collins led an otherwise inexperienced team to a Sweet Sixteen finish, where they bowed out to Michigan State. The 2008-09 season saw Aldrich post the first official triple-double in KU basketball history when he totaled 13 points, 20 rebounds and ten blocks in the team's second round tournament matchup against Dayton.
In his third and final collegiate campaign, Aldrich showcased an array of post moves and continued to build on his powerful strength, averaging 11.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game.
Among the six KU draft picks since Bill Self took the helm in 2003, Aldrich is the highest-drafted one of all. In Oklahoma City, Aldrich will use his 7-foot-5 wingspan to strengthen the Thunder frontline. It's difficult to envision him being a scoring force, but he should be reliable for some easy baskets off the glass.