BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — Cole Aldrich, a Bloomington Jefferson High School graduate who went on to play at Kansas and is now in the NBA, came back to his roots to host a basketball camp, something he did not have an opportunity to participate in as a youth.
“When I was young I wasn’t fortunate enough to go right to camp. We just didn’t have enough money to do those things,” Aldrich said. “But it was so fun just to play. I basically just kind of learned the game by playing it.”
He grew into a dominant player at Jefferson High School, a blue-chipper who had several scholarship offers in line before he graduated.
“It means a lot. This is kind of where everything started, ever since I was a little kid starting to play basketball. This is where it’s at,” Aldrich said.
From Jefferson he went to Kansas University, where he blossomed into an NBA lottery pick after three years. He skipped his senior year for the NBA Draft.
“It was a blast,” Aldrich said of his experience at Kansas. “I was fortunate enough my freshman year to be on a really good team that went to the final four and beat Memphis in the final game.”
He’s now a professional player for one of the league’s top teams. He played in spurts for Oklahoma City in his rookie season and it was a year where he learned a lot about the game at its top level. That was due in part to the team’s superstar, Kevin Durant.
“We would practice at 11 so I would get to the gym at about 9:30 and most days he would beat me to the gym,” Aldrich said. “It was crazy.”
Now he’s challenged by the NBA lockout, and it’s a work stoppage that nobody thinks will end soon. So in the meantime he gets back to his roots with the kids that want to be the next Cole Aldrich and soak up his knowledge of the game.
“You have to get better yourself and just make sure whenever that gets resolved, and hopefully it’s soon, that you’re ready to go and play,” Aldrich said.