Some players can't get enough recruiting interest. They love the attention from schools and drag out the process as long as possible. Then, there is 6-9 C.J. Aiken.
With the intense summer recruiting period around the corner, the Plymouth-Whitemarsh junior did not want any more attention. He wanted to make a decision. And he has decided on Saint Joseph's, the school that was there first when he was still at La Salle High.
"He's a very quiet kid, uniquely not a big fan of all the recruiting process, to say the least," P-W coach Jim Donofrio said. "St. Joe's, Temple and La Salle, they were on him early. St. Joe's was on him the earliest. To C.J., it's about building relationships. All three coaches and all three schools just did a great job of showing how much they would care about him. Something about him and coach [Phil] Martelli just kind of clicked."
Aiken, who lives in Conshohocken, has been firmly on the recruiting radar for several years. He started at La Salle before going to P-W last year. Recruiting rankings are not always reliable, especially at this stage, but rivals.com has Aiken as its 42nd ranked player in the Class of 2010. The Hawks already have gotten their first commitment for that class from 6-7 Paulsboro (N.J.) wing Darius Quarles.
For schools like St. Joe's, getting junior commitments before the summer recruiting period is critical. If they don't, the big boys often swoop in when they get a chance to see a player who they previously did not recruit. That, apparently, was not going to be an issue with Aiken who, according to Donofrio, averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks for a P-W team that went 25-6 and played in the AAAA state semifinals.
"As early as last year, we had Florida calling," Donofrio said. "When you have Florida calling, pretty much everybody is going to call. You just knew it was going to continue. He was a kid that came to the assessment that close to home was better . . . He literally does not like picking up the phone."
Aiken weighs just 185 pounds. So, he will need to find a weight room at some point.
"He plays a very relaxed game," Donofrio said. "From a skill standpoint, he has scary potential. At 6-9, he has a beautiful touch . . . He's a great passer. His feel for shot-blocking is a talent in itself." *