If you drive down the middle of the lane against Saint Joseph’s, you’d better keep an eye on C.J. Aiken, the Hawks’ sophomore forward. Aiken, a 6-foot-9, 200-pounder from Plymouth Whitemarsh, has already blocked 40 shots this season. He leads the Atlantic 10 Conference in blocked shots with a 5.0 average.
Aiken had nine blocked shots in Saint Joseph’s win over Drexel last week as SJU set the school record with 16 blocks. He had six blocks in a losing effort Sunday night in a 66-60 loss to host American University.
“The one thing I look forward to during the game is playing good defense,” Aiken said. “I just try my hardest out there. My teammates have really helped me out. I have to give them a lot of credit.”
Aiken is surrounded by some great players such as 5-foot-11 junior Carl Jones (19.0 ppg), 6-foot-2 sophomore Langston Galloway (14.5 ppg) and 6-foot-8 sophomore Ronald Roberts. They have all contributed to the Hawks’ great start. Saint Joseph’s has a 5-3 record this season.
Although he has terrific players around him, Aiken has shown great improvement in the past year. In addition to establishing himself as a shotblocker, he has done a nice job of scoring (12.3 ppg) and rebounding (5.9 rpg). A year ago, he averaged 7.4 points and 4.3 rebounds a game.
Aiken came to Hawk Hill with a tremendous resume. He was named the Pennsylvania Class AAAA Player of the Year in 2010. He averaged 16.9 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.5 blocked shots while leading Plymouth Whitemarsh to a state championship. He also received Associated Press All-State honors. Phil Martelli, Saint Joseph’s head coach, has been pleased with his development.
“I like that C.J. is enjoying himself,” Martelli said. “I’ve watched him grow up from when he was in the ninth grade. He likes playing basketball. He’s having a good time. I think C.J. feels balanced on this team. He likes to dunk. He likes to get alley-oops and block shots. I’m delighted that he’s having such a good start to the season.”
Saint Joseph’s will face Boston University (4-4) on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at Hagan Arena. The tip-off will be at 7 p.m. The Terriers won the America East and landed a spot in the NCAA tournament last year. Aiken will be looking to block some more shots and score some easy baskets inside.