Butler University has gone down under. But not in a bad way.
This fall, freshman basketball recruit Jackson Aldridge arrived on campus from Sydney, Australia.
He said a connection to coach Brad Stevens and a pivotal win helped him get on the U.S. radar.
“My national team coach back in Australia knew Brad briefly,” Aldridge said. “Then my national team played a tournament in Germany, and we knocked America out. I ended up getting named to the All-Star Five in the tournament, and the recruiting really picked up from there.”
Jackson was not only courted by Butler. He also received interest from Creighton, Washington State, Michigan and Marquette, among others.
Unlike what some might believe, he committed before Butler’s improbable run of back-to-back appearances in national championships.
Aldridge said his decision to attend Butler over the other interested schools was “not even close.”
“I knew Coach Stevens was legitimate and cared not just about basketball but for you as an individual as well,” Aldridge said.
The atmosphere is not the only thing that is different for the Aussie.
The style of play typically differs in the United States compared to the rest of the world, according to Aldridge.
Some of this is a direct result of different rules being used internationally, such as FIBA—a French acronym that translates to International Basketball Federation.
Another difference, according to Aldridge, involves the individuals he faces on the court here.
“There are some really talented individuals here,” Aldridge said. “Everyone is much more athletic. The main difference is the body type of the guys playing.”
Even with the enlarged competition, Aldridge is not afraid to utilize a dribble-drive to attack the interior of the defense on his way to the basket. He credits this fearless attitude to growing up playing rugby, usually against bigger individuals.
The different style of play initially created a small learning curve to a new ritual because “every night you have to be back up the next day,” he said.
However, the biggest adjustment in leaving Australia to come stateside has nothing to do with basketball.
“Obviously, I moved away from my family and friends, and it has been hard to adjust,” he said.
When asked about his future and whether he would move back to Australia or remain here, a small smile crept across his face as he declined to give a definitive answer.
“I honestly don’t know right now because it’s only my first year here,” he said. “I don’t have any plans right now, and I’m just going to see how it goes.”