In a league where wingspan and athleticism are becoming more prevalent, St. Joseph’s junior small forward C.J. Aiken is certainly bringing potential to the table. In fact, his fluid game and natural knack on the defensive end helped him finish his third season at SJU with 10.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, and an impressive 3.5 bpg which was third in the entire nation. The Ryan Hollins body type and the ability to play both small and power forward could prove Aiken’s untapped potential to be worth the roster slot.
Like previously stated, Aikens’ potential is very intriguing. His combination of leaping ability, length, and seamless game on both the defensive and offensive ends make him a nicely well-rounded player. His offensive game is pretty solid when it comes to shooting the ball. His mid-range game is definitely the strongest area, but can also knock down face-up jumpers from the post along with the occasional three pointer. For a guy who plays the somewhat revolutionary hybrid forward position (small/power), Aikens’ can really hustle up and down the floor and his finishing ability around the rim makes him a nice option on the fast break. As far as his body build goes, the 6’9″ height, 7’2 wingspan, and solid motor are attributes in his favor, but his weight is another story.
The only detriment to Aikens’ athletic build is the 192 pounds on his tall frame, making him especially thin for the position. If he wants to excel even further in the post he needs to add quite a bit of weight and muscle to his build so that he can handle contact better and be a larger presence during rebounding battles under the hoop. Offensively in the post Aikens needs to add an arsenal of moves when he has his back to the basket. Many players have decent face-up games, but the stand-out post players can surprise you by being lethal either way. Aikens’ age is another potential concern for teams moving toward the draft. Being 22, two years older than most of his competition, pops even more question marks regarding his physical development and game modifications.
Aikens is going to be a dark horse in this draft. The points he has to work on may seem like mountains to climb, but they aren’t superhuman feats by any measure. Actually, it’s not unrealistic for him to find a spot on a team that needs a Jeff Green-style hybrid role player off the bench who can play a couple different positions. Coaches love guys who give the extra effort, and Aikens’ strong defense could catch some eyes, providing he bulk up.
For continued coverage of the NBA’s rookies, keep visiting NBA Rookie Class. Also, stay tuned as we begin to look towards the next year of rookies and the 2013 NBA Draft!