GAME DAY FEATURE: C.J. Aiken
by Joe Greenwich
By now, you surely know who C.J. Aiken is. The sophomore forward leads the nation in blocked shots (averaging 5.0 per game as of the last official NCAA update) and has spurred the Saint Joseph's men's basketball team into the top three in the country in that category as well. Hawk fans have taken to referring to the team's games at Hagan Arena as "Block Parties," especially after Aiken set a career-high with nine blocks and the Hawks set a school record with 16 in the win over Drexel on November 30.
Surely you know C.J. Aiken. He averages 11.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, and even though it's not an official statistic, throws down at least two or three high-flying alley-oop dunks per game. Carl Jones may pour in a couple dozen points at any time, and Langston Galloway might put the team on his back and shoot lights-out from long range...but no one excites the Hagan Arena crowd quite like Aiken.
Of course you know Charles Justin Aiken.
But what you probably didn't know is that "C.J." could stand for something else: Cinema Junkie. That's because, in addition to his interest in denying just about everyone who enters the lane any chance at a basket, the Hawk big man is also an avid movie buff.
"In high school I started watching a lot of movies," Aiken explained. "I had a lot of free time, I guess, and I just started getting interested."
His history with the silver screen dates back even further, however. As a youngster, the Conshohocken, Pennsylvania native remembers seeing the 1996 Will Smith vehicle Independence Day with his family. He also went to see the 1997 re-release of the George Lucas classic Star Wars, but his memory of that experience is a little fuzzy. For good reason.
"I just went to sleep during the movie, but I remember going to see that," he chuckled.
There are of course some movies he does remember seeing, of course. His favorites include the modern classic The Departed as well as 300, the story of King Leonidas, played by Gerard Butler, and his valiant army of 300 men that fought off forces of thousands. When asked for his favorite movie, though, Aiken leans toward a very seasonal option, one that's fun for the whole family.
"I like Elf," he revealed. "I watch that whenever it's on."
As a basketball player, Aiken naturally has his favorite basketball movies. He cites He Got Game and Love and Basketball as his top choices in the genre, but conspicuous by its absence was a certain film featuring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny. When reminded, however, he quickly amended the list.
"Oh, yeah, I like Space Jam, too," he laughed. "Of course!"
Recently, the Hawks' defensive stalwart has taken in Robert Downey, Jr.'s Due Date, a film he thoroughly enjoyed, as well as the latest installment of the Paranormal Activity series. Both films come highly recommended, as do a few others (see below).
When asked for a movie he did not enjoy, Aiken thought for a few seconds before calling out LL Cool J and Samuel L. Jackson.
"Deep Blue Sea," he answered, shaking his head. "When I was younger it looked good, but then I saw it again...it wasn't."
At least once in their lives, everyone thinks about how their own personal story would play out on the big screen. When put on the spot, Aiken only had to think for a second before he chose his favorite actor to portray him.
"I'd go with Will Smith," he answered.
And while there may be a number of things that make C.J. Aiken unique, in one way, he's just like a lot of people: he chose Halle Berry to play his love interest.
Neither of those choices took much thinking, but Aiken certainly struggled with casting one important role: Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli.
"I don't know," he said as he pondered the question. "I think he'd have to play himself."
It's a role that no actor would be able to get just right, so why not?
In addition to casting his head coach, Aiken would also find a role for teammate Daryus Quarles.
"He would play someone goofy," he said. "Probably himself. He's the goofball of the team."
Of course, the conclusion of the picture has Aiken and his teammates winning a national championship and raising a banner in Hagan Arena.
"Definitely cutting down the nets, winning it all," is how Aiken wants this movie to end.
And as the story plays out on the court on Hawk Hill, we've all got our popcorn ready.
Here are some recommendations on the current slate of films that are either in theaters now or are coming soon from Saint Joseph's sophomore C.J. Aiken.
A Very Harold & Kumar 3-D Christmas
Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
The Dark Knight Rises
Jack & Jill