Aldrich Among Talented Big Men At ACC For Workouts

June 3, 2010

I have seen the future.

His name is Cole Aldrich.

Aldrich was one of four big mean men wrestling in the key Thursday as the Raptors pre-draft workouts, giant division.

Over here, Ekpe Udoh, an over-the-top athletic, six-foot-10 forward from Baylor. In another corner, Larry Sanders, another defensively sound, offensively able but underweight product from little-known Virginia Commonwealth. Daniel Orton probably has the best NBA-ready body. He is six-foot-10, 269 pounds, very big, very strong and very green.

And then there is Aldrich. He is six-foot-11, 236 but thick in the trunk, a phenomenon from perennial powerhouse Kansas just waiting to happen.

Start with the manner. Aldrich is from Bloomington, Minnesota, population 85,000 and there is little in his first impression that doesn’t speak to the Midwest.

While some of the hotter prospects have already been on the road for a week or more, Aldrich was performing for the first time and he loved it.

“I thought it was a great workout today. We played against some real good bigs. It’s a real good first workout just to get here and experience everything.”

Okay, let’s talk about the shot. There are no real explanations for Aldrich’s jumper except to say it is to unconventional what Haagen Dazs is to ice cream. He doesn’t really know where it came from.

“It’s a little unnormal. I am trying to smooth it out a little. It’s got a soft touch to it so I don’t want to change it too much, but just continue to work on it. I will really improve my shot.”

The best way to describe the shot is to consider the delivery of a soccer throw-in, with a basketball, while jumping.

“We were talking at the bench of who that reminds you of, but I don’t think it reminds you of anybody,” said Jim Kelly, the Raptors senior director of player personnel.

“The results are the main things that count. He seems to be living with it and I think he has a very high basketball IQ as well. I think he knows about his game, his shot, his limitations and his strengths.” And now the best thing. His tooth. The old front left incisor. Gone. The guy looks like a Leaf.

“I did it for the local fans,” he laughed.

“I got it knocked out almost a year and a half ago playing Kansas State. It broke at the root so we had to take it out. I’ve got a fake tooth but I don’t use it when I am playing.”

And then he grins.

“It makes me looks a little meaner.”

Kelly sees any of the four being worthy drafts.

“One thing which really helps me and the other guys in the room is that you guys need a big, a good player who can hold the paint down,” said Aldrich. "I think I’m one of those guys who can help out.”

Orton has been projected as a low to high teen selection. The widely-read projects the Raptors picking him at 13.

Who knows?