Tonight it's official. Recent weeks have been running wild with speculation of 5 star recruits and a potential fit with the Kansas Jayhawks. However tonight they landed two high caliber stars for a second time when team leaders Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins announced their intentions to return to school for one more go around.
Aldrich will return to Kansas as one of the top big men in the country after a sophomore season averaging 14 points, 11 rebounds and nearly 3 blocks per contest. Cole was particularly impressive down the stretch in the NCAA tournament where he recorded the first official triple double in Kansas basketball history.
Collins returns for his senior season and what is quickly becoming one of the more successful careers in Kansas basketball history. The uncontested heart and soul of the Jayhawks in 08'-09' Collins averaged 19 points and 5 assists in his first season as a full time starter for the Jayhawks. Collins always seemed to save his best performances for the games that mattered most scoring 26 against the Oklahoma Sooners and 25 agains the MIssouri Tigers in back to back games that ultimately earned the Jayhawks their fifth consecutive Big 12 conference crown.
The return of these two pieces combined with a far more experienced corp group will make the Jayhawks a team to reckon with next season. Throw in the mix top 40 recruits Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson along with a possible surprise late and the future looks aweful bright.
The decision to stay holds pluses and minuses for both but ultimately both Aldrich and Collins have a lot to gain from another season in the college game.
Why this is the right decision after the jump...
For Sherron this decision should have been a fairly easy one and his trust in Coach Self probably made it just that. Sherron Collins is somewhat disregarded by NBA scouts who say he's too small and not an "NBA" point guard. Most mock drafts have him going somewhere in the mid to late 2nd round if he were to come out. Collins could certainly work his way up in pre draft camps or he may not, he may just be a great college player with limited NBA potential.
What he can do by staying is two things. First and foremost Sherron Collins can get another year of free education and ideally a college degree that will benefit him long term in life. Secondly and the more immediate benefit might be the fact that he can be one of the marquee players in the college game. If Collins puts together another solid season and leads Kansas on a deep run in the tournament he could very likely benefit from the ever present post tourney bump that so many players seem to experience in the draft. Again Collins might never be a lottery pick but another year at Kansas is a good choice for his long term future.
In terms of Cole the decision would have to have been a much tougher one. After exploding in the tourney Cole was reported to be in the realm of a top 10 pick and that's a lot of money. However, anyone who watched him throughout the year could see two key areas of improvement that he needs to succeed at the next level. First and foremost is a decisive post move. Too often Cole found himself stuck down low with nowhere to go and struggled with the double team. If he can learn to dominate offensively and see the floor better he will be an incredible weapon both at Kansas and beyond.
The second area and one not talked about as much is his conditioning and continued physical development. It's been documented the improvements Cole has made in his physical fitness, yet he still found himself pretty clearly gassed at times in those heated games. Another year under a highly supervised conditioning program will put him in a position to be better prepared physically for the jump to the next level.
I think it was Cole's dad who at one point made the statement that it wasn't about getting that one paycheck and fading to the background, it's about positioning yourself for a longterm successful career at the next level. That's what Cole stands to gain from another year, and that's why Cole will be back in a Jayhawk uniform.
One last thing that these two will both gain and it might be tough for those not connected to or fans of the program to understand. With another year and what many expect to be a successful year Cole and Sherron will cement themselves as two of the greats for their era of Jayhawk basketball and that's a special thing.
Welcome back Sherron and Cole, you were never gone I suppose but it needs to be said and Rock Chalk Jayhawk.