Perhaps nothing says more for Bill Self's development skills than how Cole Aldrich went from a guy who basically couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time early in his freshman season to a guy who dominated national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough in the final four that same season.
Aldrich's sophomore and junior seasons were no doubt the best back to back seasons in a Bill Self uniform, and his sophomore season was the best big man season Self has ever had. Don't believe me? Let's take a look at the chart:
Said chart is simply a percentage of the shots taken by KU big men compared to their offensive rating. Obviously, the farther towards the top right, the better your season was.
Because of the relationship between usage and offensive rating (there is a curve, but I didn't draw it. You'll just have to go with it), Marcus Morris's 2011 season is marginally better than Aldrich's 2009 season. However, Aldrich was much better defensively (he was a top 25 shot blocker in the nation, and 7th in defensive rebounding), and he had the type of ball dominant guard that Morris didn't. Casual fans likely will knock Aldrich for not shooting as much the year after either, but again he had Sherron Collins to dominate the ball. It is much tougher for a big man to control his own usage than it is for a guard, and so take any those numbers with a small grain of salt.
There also has been some comparison to Jeff Withey. Who knows whether this is just because they are two tall white guys (it is), but Aldrich was the much more complete player. His two seasons were better offensively than Withey's, and defensively they were comparable (Aldrich had block percentages of 9.5 percent and 13 percent, while Withey's were 15.3 percent and 13.7 percent).
Aldrich also led the Big 12 in defensive win shares in back to back seasons, is third in Big 12 history in blocked shots, and ranks in the top 25 in career win shares. He had not just the best season by a big man under Bill Self, he had the 2nd best season under Bill Self, period. (#1 should be obvious, and is coming later). Aldrich was an elite scorer, one of the best rebounders in the country, and one of the best defenders in the country. Two seasons in a row. For that, he is #12 with a bullet.