C.J. Aiken has a quiet manner to him until he gets on the court. No, the 6-foot-9 St. Joseph’s sophomore isn’t boisterous while playing, in fact he rarely says a word, but his actions speak volumes, especially on the defensive end.
Aiken has gained considerable notice for his ability to reject with regularity. He is the league leader in blocked shots, averaging 3.7 per game and the Atlantic-10 named him on Monday as its Defensive Player of the Year.
“I am happy to get this award,” Aiken said in a phone interview. “I have put in a lot of work.”
Four other Hawks were honored. Ron Roberts was named the Sixth Man of the Year. Langston Galloway earned second-team all-conference honores while Carl Jones and Halil Kanacevic were honorable mention.
Aiken’s total of 116 blocks is tied as the third-best single-season total in Hawks history. His next block will tie him for second, with himself. As a freshman Aiken blocked 117 shots, averaging 3.5 per game.
What is interesting is that this season he has committed just 44 fouls, an average of 1.4 per game.
Aiken has the ability not to be fooled by fakes.
He became the first Hawk to receive this award since Dwayne Jones in 2004-05.
“I was very surprised when coach told me about this,” he said.
Actually she shouldn’t have been.
Aiken and his teammates have demoralizing effect on an offense when they block shots.
“When you block shots you feel the emotion,” he said. “The crowd and your teammates get into it.”
Aiken says he has improved on the defensive end since his freshman year.
“I have put on some weight and I don’t get pushed around as much and I am moving my feet faster,” he said.
As for putting on the weight, it’s hard to tell by looking at Aiken, who says he now weighs 197 pounds.
As a senior in high school he averaged 16. 9 points for state champion Plymouth Whitemarsh, but even then he was already in a defensive mindset. As a senior he averaged 6.5 blocked shots per game.
“My junior year is when I really started going after it on defense,” he said. “I just didn’t want anybody to score.”
It’s a mindset that he has taken with him at St. Joseph’s, and now he was justly awarded for his effort.