Kansas’ Cole Aldrich leaving early for NBA

Published 12:35 am Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cole Aldrich, fighting back tears, said Monday he’ll skip his senior year at Kansas and head for the NBA.

The 6-11 center, who averaged almost a double-double for the Big 12 champions, is projected by most experts as a high first-round pick.

“The last three years have been pretty special,” he said.

Email newsletter signup

Blessed with a wingspan greater than most men his height, Aldrich averaged 11.3 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Jayhawks, who were the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament before they were upset by Northern Iowa. He also set a team record with 125 blocks.

The Jayhawks are still waiting for a decision by freshman swing man Xavier Henry, their second-leading scorer.

It would have been a surprise if Aldrich had elected to remain in school. His father, Walter Aldrich, is a construction worker who’s been put out of a job by the recession.

“We’ve known this was going to happen since last year,” said coach Bill Self. “To be real candid with everybody, and I think Cole would agree with this, I would strongly discourage him from coming back.

“I think he paid his dues here and I do think it is time for him to move forward into another chapter. He has made a lot of sacrifices — his family has — to come back in a time when he didn’t have to. We’re all very proud of him.”