ESPN's Chad Ford has him ranked 8th among all available draft prospects. Nbadraft.net has him 12th. Draft Express has him 5th. Yes kids, Cole Aldrich is going to make a ton of money next year as a lottery pick in the NBA.
And it will be a giant, massive, humongous mistake. Why? Because Cole Aldrich is terrible.
But let's back up for a second. With my move last week to the losing side of the War of Northern Aggression, I have the opportunity to attend college sports on a slightly higher level than "Northeastern-Maine." And when the No. 1 team in the country and their sure-fire lottery pick made their way into Knoxville yesterday, I had to go.
I went in expecting a blowout, especially given that Tennessee just lost four of their best players, including their best player, F Tyler Smith. The Vols were down to nine warm bodies, four of which were walk-ons. One of those walk-ons? Stevie Pearl, the coach's friggin kid, who had a gaudy 0.5 ppg average. As someone who hates UT with the fire of a thousand suns, I was positvely giddy at the prospect of the prison-rape that Kansas was about to put on 22,000 orange-clad yahoos.
Except the exact opposite happened. To say that the Vols were inspired by the suspension brouhaha is to say that T-Pain is slightly overproduced. The remaining Vol players collectively inflated their testicles to grapefruit size and brought it rough and without lube to Kansas. Tennessee muscled Kansas around in the paint, sunk timely threes, never let the KU guards penetrate, and generally never let up against the top team in the country. UT took the lead early and never relinquished it, culminating in a MONEY three from walk-on Skylar McBee with 34 seconds left that sealed the deal for UT. (Side note: this was by far the loudest, most raucous game I've ever been at. Absolutely insane. My ears are still ringing this morning. It made a Celtics playoff game look like a nursing home)
But back to Aldrich, the reason for this post. After seeing him live and in person, against a completely undermanned squad no less, I can safely say that Cole Aldrich is a giant stiff. His body actually circulates formaldehyde. Gheorge Muresan laughs at him. He has the grace of a foal being born.
Sure, the box score will tell you that Aldrich had seven points, four blocks and 18 rebounds against UT, but let me tell you the truth here - he's the reason that Kansas lost that game. I saw him execute exactly one low-post move in the entire game, and when KU needed scoring in crunch time, Aldrich was either nowhere to be seen or on the bench completely. And it's not like he was playing Dwight Howard and Josh Smith here - UT's top post player played less than 20 minutes due to foul trouble, and he was matched up mostly against walk-ons and freshmen. Given all that, Aldrich could still do NOTHING on the offensive end. A sure-fire lottery pick, seemingly the best low post player in the country, an All-American...and he couldn't get shots off against Bruce Pearl's kid Stevie.
So buyer beware NBA teams. If you're considering drafting Cole Aldrich, and a lot of teams are, know what you're getting. Yes, he can rebound and block the occasional shot, but make no mistake: Cole Aldrich's best-case scenario is a five-inches-shorter Hasheem Thabeet, and his worst case could be closer to the last big white stiff center to come out of Kansas...