The Kansas basketball team locked up a share of the Big 12 title at Allen Fieldhouse Monday night and Sherron Collins officially became the winningest four-year player in Kansas University history, but the real feel-good news of the evening belonged to Jayhawk center Cole Aldrich.
With the Aldrich family in the stands, it was announced at the game that Cole had been named the Academic All-American of the year by ESPN The Magazine and the College Sports Information Directors Association of America. He was joined on the academic first team by players from Notre Dame, Columbia, Butler and LaSalle universities.
KU has won six straight league titles, but it hadn’t landed a basketball player on the academic first team in a decade. Only one other KU player, Jacque Vaughn, has won the top academic award. It’s no small honor to achieve that level of academic excellence while competing on a college basketball team.
Being an Academic All-American was a goal Aldrich had set for himself and worked hard to achieve, earning a 4.0 grade average in the fall semester to put himself in the running. He doesn’t expect to be able to graduate by the end of his junior year, but something tells us he’ll find a way to finish his degree even if, as expected, he enters the NBA ranks next year.
Aldrich has done a lot to help a team that has seen much success in the last three years, but it’s great to see him also accomplish such a lofty individual goal.