I ran him and ran him for 8.8 miles. I told him we would do this every day he had a lazy practice, but to be honest, I felt bad about it. I thought he was going to transfer.
Aldridge didn’t transfer, and was in fact the first one that hit the gym the following morning.
Not only did he show up early before other players, but Allen says he has never seen anyone work harder at improving. Aldridge watched film on his lunch break, and would call the team’s assistant coach to open the gym late at night.
Due to his after school evening job, there wasn’t much time for long practices, but when he clocked out from his shoe store job, he’d rush to the school to get in a few hundred late night jump shots.
Coach Allen also recalls the time the power was knocked out due to a storm. Aldridge didn’t want to leave the gym so he opened all of the doors so he could see well enough to keep practicing. His dedication would later pay off.
During his senior year he averaged 28.9 points, and 13.4 rebounds, and was also named as an McDonald’s All American.
His efforts also made him one of the top recruits in the country, and he ultimately Aldridge decided to stay in Texas.
Once he was integrated into the University of Texas’ basketball program, he made an immediate impact, but that didn’t last long because he suffered a hip injury that sidelined him for half of the season
The most terrific thing about this obstacle is that it didn’t stop the same dedication he displayed in high school. He collaborated with the coach and came up with a plan. Instead of just resting and nursing his injury, he watched film of fadeaway shots from NBA big men Rasheed Wallace and Tim Duncan.
It was here that Aldridge learned his familiar high release patented jumper. He spent the better part of two months practicing from a chair, and eventually developed his shot enough to shoot from as far as the 3-point line.
His college coach Rick Barnes sounded much like his high school coach after having enough time to fully evaluate Aldridge’s drive and dedication.
He was so diligent about it. He sat there for hours and hours shooting until he could hit everything from a chair.
The next season his hard work paid off again. He averaged 15.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, whil earning Third team All American honors from the NABC, he was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and lead the Longhorns to a 30-7 season before losing in the 2006 Elite Eight.
After his two seasons in college, Aldridge declared for the NBA, and was selected #2 by the Chicago Bulls. His draft rights were traded to the Portland Trailblazers, and while the rest is history, his work and accomplishments prior to the pros were not forgotten.