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Originally published April 30, 2013 at 03:09p.m., updated May 1, 2013 at 12:45a.m.

Cole Aldrich completes KU degree in NBA, will graduate this month

Sacramento Kings center Cole Aldrich (45) dunks in front of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison (4) in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Monday, April 15, 2013. Oklahoma City won 104-95.

Sacramento Kings center Cole Aldrich (45) dunks in front of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison (4) in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Monday, April 15, 2013. Oklahoma City won 104-95.

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Cole Aldrich didn’t nap, watch movies or work on his financial portfolio on NBA charter flights during the 2012-13 season.

The former Kansas University center, who left college after his junior year about 20 hours short of fulfilling requirements for a degree in communication studies, spent those captive hours with his nose in books — KU textbooks.

“I can tell you, when we were on the plane from San Antonio going to Houston (on season-ending road trip), I was not too excited. I was writing papers, reading, doing all that stuff,” said the 6-foot-11, 240-pound Sacramento Kings pivot, proud to report on Tuesday that his persistence has paid off.

College basketball’s 2010 Academic All-American of the Year will graduate on May 19 and walk down the hill in KU Commencement ceremonies at Memorial Stadium.

“(On last road trip) I sat by Jimmer on the plane. He is doing a little bit of class right now, too,” Aldrich said of former BYU standout Jimmer Fredette. “He was like, ‘I don’t know how you’re doing it.’ It was just one of those things I just wanted to get done with and not have to worry about doing homework again.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Aldrich added of graduating college. “It’s something I can be proud of the rest of my life.”

Aldrich — who is wrapping up his degree requirements prior to his July wedding (in Minnesota) to former KU student Britt Claflin — said the hardest part, “would be coming back from practice and not having any ambition to sit down and do homework. You are on a roadtrip (and say), ‘I’ve got two weeks until this paper is due. I want to do this, go to dinner with the guys.’”

Instead, Aldrich said he would say: “I’ve got to get homework done, first.’”

KU coach Bill Self knew Aldrich was committed to finishing his KU coursework.

“We are all proud that Cole accomplished this goal,” Self said Tuesday. “He was the Academic All-American of the Year and when he left early he said he was going to graduate from KU. He kept to his plan and worked hard to earn his degree. I know we are as happy for him as his family is.”

As far as putting the degree to use ... Aldrich hopes that’s still years down the line. An unrestricted free agent who earned $2,445,480 playing for Oklahoma City, Houston and Sacramento this past season, Aldrich is free to sign with any team.

He’s hoping a solid performance down the stretch with the Kings — he scored 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against Oklahoma City and had 12 points and 12 boards vs. Houston in two of the final three games — will help him net a lucrative second NBA contract.

“The fun thing is there’s opportunity some places and there’s other opportunities other places. The good thing for me ... being an unrestricted free agent, we can see where those opportunities are for me to get out there and play,” Aldrich said.

“For me, it’s maybe been a different road than some other guys. I went lottery (No. 11 overall in 2010 draft). A lot of guys had the opportunity to go play and do things on the court. Me being on a really, really good team (OKC), that opportunity wasn’t there for me to get on the court. Toward the end of the season, I showed all the hard work I put in the last two years is really paying off. I have the most confidence in myself. I know I can play. It’s just a matter of time and matter of opportunity of getting out there playing.”

Cole’s camp: Aldrich will hold a camp for youngsters kindergarten to eighth grade June 24-27 at Olathe Northwest. Details are available at colealdrich.com.

Collison a good sport: Former KU forward Nick Collison of the OKC Thunder placed fifth in voting for the 2012-13 NBA sportsmanship award. Jason Kidd was winner, followed by Stephen Curry, Luol Deng and Mike Conley.

Sherron in house: Former KU guards Sherron Collins and Mario Little attended Tuesday night’s KU-Wichita State baseball game, as did current players Kevin Young and Naadir Tharpe. Collins said he planned to live in Lawrence this summer and work out with KU strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hudy.

Comments

KanKu 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Cole was a great representative of KU. Selfishly, how good does it look for KU to have a guy show the stick-to-it-ness to get his degree from the university he attended during his playing days. I must say I was glad to see him go when he did, both monetarily for his family situation and for KU's sake, as it was time to roll with the twins and T-Rob.

As far as Wiggs goes.....my hopes have now unfortunately increased as well due to the recent posts and links. I mean, looking through crimson-colored glasses I see the only viable option is KU. I realistically don't see him choosing KU, nor do I want to ponder over it further as I feel it takes away from the great class that has already committed sans the drama/indecision.

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Ian Emerson 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I bet we get wiggins. If we was going to FSU he would have announces it by now. There are too many options in NC and if that's that case he will never go to UK. Bold prediction, the second B Mac enters the draft Coach will get a phone call. That call will be Andrew Wiggins giving his commitment too KU.

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hawkmoon2020 11 months, 3 weeks ago

FYI - ESPN has Embiid rank #6 in their final 2013 rankings. Pretty frickin' amazing!

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Joe Baker 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I totally understand the Wiggins and FSU family connection. I'm having a real hard time buying it though. IF it were a family thing, it seems Nick would've gone to FSU. The more I learn and read the more I think it's either FSU or KU. If he doesn't pick FSU it seems his dad may want him at KU. If he doesn't pick KU, then his dad wants him at FSU. Now, I don't know why Nick would pick WSU when he would've had the opportunity to play with his brother at FSU, eventually. I just don't think the family thing is a big factor in his choice.

UNC came in late and uk is stacked. FSU only offers family tradition, but he leaves with very little from FSU accept his parents' gratitude for choosing the family alma mater. I don't think FSU will do much even with Wigs. He's great, but he's one player. He may be a OAD, but I think he'd like to leave college with something, if not a college degree, maybe a NC. He's guaranteed a B12 Conference Championship at KU. He won't leave college empty handed.

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Joe Baker 11 months, 3 weeks ago

6 Joel Embiid Video | Scouts Report C Gainesville, FL The Rock School 6'11'' 230 95 Kansas Signed

7 Dakari Johnson Video | Scouts Report C Brooklyn, NY Montverde Academy 6'10'' 250 95 Kentucky Signed

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joeloveshawks 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Love seeing that Embiid has moved up the rankings. It shows that people in the know think he is the real deal. That said I don't really think it matters where he is ranked. It is really more of how will he adapt to the college game. Perry took almost 3/4 of the year to look comfortable out there and he is a 4 year stud in high school while Joel just started playing 2 years ago. I have to think he will be really raw for the first half of the season if not the entire season offensively but man he looks like an incredible athlete. It will be fun to watch him this year.

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Mike Bratisax 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Team Rankings

2. KANSAS

2013 commits (National rank) SG Wayne Selden (12) C Joel Embiid (25) SF Brannen Greene (29) PG Conner Frankamp (34) PG Frank Mason (76) Bill Self and his staff have put together what should be a tremendous class. Selden looks to be an instant impact wing player while Embiid is oozing with upside. Greene and Frankamp are deadly from deep and Mason is one of the toughest point guards around.

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Big_Dipper 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Congrats Cole! I was disappointed when you left KU, but I understand and I am happy you completed your degree!

Any chance we can use his GPA for the team this year? ;)

On a side note, ESPN released their final top 100 today. Congrats to Joel Embiid, who not only jumped more, but he jumped all the way into the top 10 of the final standings. He is ranked 6th now with a grade of 95. He is also listed as the top center now, ahead of UK's Dakari Johnson. Just a few months ago I think he was listed somewhere in the 130s. Just shows what hard work can do. Also have to admit, once again Coach Self can sure find the diamonds in the rough. He may not always go after the players everyone talks about in the beginning, but he gets the right ones for his system and makes them even better. People have been saying KU's string of consecutive lottery picks will end this year with Ben MacLemore, however if Embiid keeps working hard, he too could be a one and done next year.

Others listed:

14 Wayne Seldon

46 Conner Frankamp

47 Brannen Greene

Frank Mason not listed in top 100. I thought he was in the previous update. Guess he dropped out.

Anyways, congrats to all of the recruits this year! Can't wait for the new season to start. I also kind of hope that unless we get Wiggins, Coach Self doesn't add anyone else. I think this is a great group of players along with our returning players, and will still be a great team!

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

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Ludwig Supraphonic 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Bleacher Report indicates Angel Rodriguez is seeking a hardship transfer, to be closer to his family in Puerto Rico, from KSU to Miami.

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makeshift 11 months, 3 weeks ago

On a side note, Embiid is now ranked 6th overall in ESPN's final rankings for class of 2013 recruits.

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Konkis Dongington III 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Well, since no one's posted about it, you might what to check out ESPN's final class rankings. Looks like they REALLY like Joel Embiid. He's now he's their #1 center and ranked 6th overall. Selden held steady. Greene and Frankcamp dropped slightly. Of course, there's no movement on Mason, but ESPN doesn't rank post HS players and when they announced their revamped ratings they indicated that they'd be de-emphasizing rating them at all (so where the Morris Twins were 4 star but unranked, the only indication we have of ESPNs evaluation of Mason is that Telep listed him as one of the top five players outside the 100 that could have an impact in his first year, along with Chris Jones and some other post HS and Juco guys). But the overall class is once again in 2nd place.

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ku_foaf 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Congratulations to Cole for all his hard work!

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Tony Bandle 11 months, 3 weeks ago

An Open letter to Andrew Wiggins.

Andrew,

If you are reading this site, please consider coming to Kansas. Ms Hudy will prepare your body...Coach Self will prepare your mind ....and Jayhawk Nation will prepare your soul.

I know your Mom and Dad most likely want you to follow their legacy and I appreciate that, however, you can start your own legacy here at the University of Kansas. I know the chemistry is there already with your buds Joel and Wayne, and I know you'd blend in immediately with the rest of the guys.

I know it would be great to win a National Championship with the Harrisons and Randle and the rest of the Wildcats....but wouldn't it be even more fun to win a National Championship by BEATING them!!!

Best of luck in your decision.

Sincerely, OakvilleJHawk.

PS Thanks for not giving Missouri even a sniff!!!

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William Blake 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Hey, Sherron is in the house!

I'm hopeful, one day, that Sherron lives in Lawrence and finds a position with KU basketball. I truly believe it is his calling.

Sherron needs a life surrounded by developed family... and nothing is better (outside of blood family) than the Jayhawk Nation. It will be a synergistic relationship that will empower Sherron to reach the same execution level as he did when he created the opportunity for Mario to become a KU legend, and KU to take home another National Championship.

Personally, I'll never forget Sherron nor can I thank him enough for being a Jayhawk!

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notjustbread 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Way to go Cole. As a fellow KU Communications Studies degree holder, I salute you.

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Joe Baker 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Congrats Cole. Interesting how some are saying he "doesn't need it"(and he doesn't), but it's fulfilling to accomplish a life goal. A degree is definitely a commitment made and should be kept. I admire Cole's commitment and desire to complete his degree under what many fail to appreciate.

This would be a great piece to research. Either Bedore, Keegs, Jessie, or Matt should do a piece on KU's early departures and how many completed their degrees or are in the process of competing their degrees. Cole will also count toward KU's student athlete grad rate too. I'd also like to compare KU to some of the other "blue blood" programs and learn their record too for an overall grad rate of early departed athletes. How many of them returned and complete their degrees? KU just graduated 4 seniors who walked the Hill.

The question is not their GPAs (although that's a second part of this study), but simple grad rate. Then throw in the GPAs and see what program has the overall higher GPA that graduate. If I remember, Cole was an Academic AA? Again, great accomplishment. I do believe that KU had the highest grad rate and might even go further, a better GPA specifically with bball athletes. I also believe Reed was an AAA. He didn't play much but Kleinmann was also up there with a great GPA too in the School of Architecture. Where was JW, KY, EJ, Rel? BMac was around a 3.0.

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clevelandjayhawker 11 months, 4 weeks ago

So Wiggins is down to fsu or KU? calapari told coach K said he is not going to kentucky?

The rumors I heard and then backed up by a quick online search, where is the story kusports?

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Tony Bandle 11 months, 4 weeks ago

THESE ARE ALL GREAT QUESTIONS AND SERIOUS ISSUES, BUT NO ONE HAS ASKED THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE.....DID COLE EVERV REPLACE HIS TOOTH!!!???

2

JacquesMerde 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Do I note sarcasm in "But being a multi-millionaire with loads free time, finishing 20 hours of work over a three year period of time is not an impressive feat. Some people get full college degrees in the three years while working a real job."

Anyone who attended college in recent years knows that Communication Studies is a grueling degree. You would need to score between 70 and 80 on the I.Q. Test to make it!! Communications is a favorite major for athletes since P.E. prerequisites began to include quantum mechanics and organic chemistry. I may be wrong on these two classes, but something like them.

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Cameron Cederlind 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Finishing 20 hours of a communications degree in 3 years while basically working part time?

1

mikehawk 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Congratulations, Cole. Speaks volumes about your character. Also, it is darn smart for the long haul. Best wishes to you and Britt. Good things ahead my friend.

1

Clarence Haynes 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Great accomplishment and insurance policy. I hope that others who have departed early will "Pay Heed"!

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actorman 11 months, 4 weeks ago

"Cole Aldrich completes KU degree in NBA ..."

I know that KU has become a basketball factory, but isn't a degree in NBA a bit much???

Seriously, good job Cole, and congrats! I know that was important to you.

That is a horribly written headline, though ...

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JayHawkFanToo 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Congratulation Cole, you always said you wanted to complete your degree; nice to see that you are fulfilling that dream.

1

Scott MacWilliams 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Think he leaves the tooth missing for intimidation? humor? Now that he's got his degree, maybe...

Rock Chalk, Cole!!!

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KJD 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Love it. Congratulations Cole.

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jaybate 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Cole, take the money and move to Europe. No, wait, Europe is in depression. See if Berlin has a team. Buy Berlin real estate. It's inflating because of all the other euro states imploding and money seeking safe harbor in Berlin properties. Stay two years. Cash out. Retire a year. Become a big man coach. Raise kids. Circumnavigate the world.

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REHawk 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Congrats on your finishing the degree, Cole. Good luck with your playing, wherever you should land. Thanks lots for those 3 Jayhawk years!

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Sandeep Kalburgie 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Our 2014 recruiting seems to be lagging behind other programs :(

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LubbockJhawk85 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Always nice to see a millionaire come back and finish what he started, even though he doesn't really NEED his degree. I wish he'd get a shot with a team where he fits in better, but he's had one guaranteed contract and he'll be just fine no matter what happens with his career from here. Rock Chalk!

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Phil Leister 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Love seeing stories like this. It's a shame he hasn't had more of an impact in the league, but he's one of my favorite Jayhawks. I'll always love the guy who had the guts to wear jorts all over KU's campus!

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Kevin Huffman 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Um....so he's not on the Kings any more?

http://espn.go.com/nba/team/roster/_/name/sac/sacramento-kings

Heck, in 2 of his last 3 gms. he had 12 & 12 and 12 & 13.

Combined 12-13 FGs w/ 4 blocks in those 2 gm's.

He got more play than Robinson who it seems the Rockets didn't care to get. :(

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Boouk 11 months, 4 weeks ago

It's too bad Cole was drafted by a team that didn't employ an offensive system that he's a good fit in. We might've won the title in 2011 with him if he stayed.

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fearthephog512 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Congrats! Cole should definitely be able to find his way back onto a NBA roster, too. Portland, perhaps?

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702Hawk 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Way to go Cole. Love Jayhawks who left for better opportunities that still make time to self improve. Rock Chalk

5

Waylon Cook 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Neat to see just wish he had stayed and graduated.

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