As a Junior this season, Cole Aldrich helped the Kansas Jayhawks remain one of the most dominant teams throughout the course of the year. Despite Kansas’ disappointing second round loss, Cole still has plenty of basketball in his future. He announced in late March that he’d forgo his final season of eligibility and enter this June’s NBA Draft, where many expect he will be a lottery pick. In the time leading up to that big day in early summer, Cole will be preparing diligently, while taking time to check in with us here and there. Check the first installment of his diary below.

As told to Adam Fleischer

I just finished my last classes and finals at Kansas, and I’m back home now. I’m from a suburb of Minneapolis, called Bloomington and we have about 85,000 people. Lawrence  is actually about the size of the town I live back home. They’re also similar because the people, kind of the Midwest feel, has always been around both.

I’m going to miss everything about Lawrence, pretty much. I’ve been there for three, three and a half years and it’s a pretty special place because the fans that we have are crazy. You can go to the smallest towns in the middle of nowhere from Kansas and people will still love you. That’s what makes the place so special is the fan base—no matter where you are in Kansas.

I have tons of great memories. Off the court, just meeting a lot of people; a lot of my friends are gonna finish school next year. And also just the guys on the team and all the memories I have on the court with them. I’d definitely say my Freshman year when we won the National Championship, that was always a huge memory. And then, last year, we went and played in the NCAA Tournament in Minneapolis and I got my triple double there, which was the first in school history, which was a really special moment, too. I had a ton of people from come back and watch at the Metrodome. That was a great feeling.

After the season ended, I took only a few days off. Then I got right back into the weight room and I’ve been working out with the trainer and then we’ve got our guys on the team who I go lift with. One thing I’m really working on right now is really being able to go over both shoulders; to have a really nice right hand, but also have a really nice left hand. It’s easier to stop a player who only goes to one hand all the time, so instead I’m trying to make it harder for defenders because I can go to both my right hand and my left hand.

I’m going to be home until we go to Chicago on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. It’s just for two days and it’s a lot of the predraft stuff: the measuring, small workouts, and things like that.

I’m really excited for the Draft. There’s always maybe a small bit of nerves, but it’s more about the excitement of all the new things coming into my life. Having all sorts of opportunities, especially just to play at the next level. I really don’t look at mock drafts or listen to what people say on TV. I just make sure that I can prepare myself in every possible way to just be the best player I can be. If I just worry about myself, the other things will take care of themselves. colealdrichdunksonmichaeltveidt

I still talk with a few guys that were on our team in 2008 that are playing in the NBA right now, with Mario Chalmers playing with the Heat and Darnell Jackson just got traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. But I mainly talk to my buddy that plays for the Wolves, Kevin Love. I’m always talking to him. He pretty much has just said, Work hard. Work on your game and have fun with it. That’s why we play this sport, is because we love it and we love playing it.

Kevin and I played AAU for quite a while against each other, whether it was going to adidas or ABCD camp, all kinds of things. We stayed in contact through high school and saw each other at the Final Four in 2008, and then he got drafted by the Wolves and we kept in contact. I think it would always be fun to play for your home team, but I don’t quite know the likelihood that it would happen. But if I have the opportunity to play for the Wolves, I think I’d like it because being a hometown kid, I know what the fans really want. They want a good basketball team to get back to the playoffs and get the vibe back in the Twin Cities.

I was a huge KG fan growing up. I don’t necessarily model my game after him or anyone else, though. People always looked at me weird, but I always liked the way Dennis Rodman played. Rodman was always a guy that knew his role. His role was to go rebound and play defense, and if he had the opportunity to score an easy bucket, then that’s what he did. just his attitude on the defensive end and rebounding I really liked as a kid. Some of his hairstyles are not quite my style. I don’t think I’ll dye a Chicago Bull in my head or anything like that, though.

I think I’m a player that has a small bit of a few players in my game. I’m starting to become more of an offensive threat, but at the same time, I think of a player like Ben Wallace, that really enjoys playing defense and rebounding. I really take pride in that.

Growing up I did watch the NBA, probably not as much as I have in the last few years, though, just because I know that I might have the opportunity to play there. Watching the game and getting a feel for what the style is has been important to me.

I love watching the playoffs lately, because that’s the best basketball that you can watch. Everybody is competing so hard. I’m trying to watch footwork and all sorts of different things at the same time, which is really fun. I like the Lakers. If the three bigs have a big rebounding night, they’re tough to beat. The East is tough, too. I’m really just looking forward to the next few weeks.