Although the 2010 season didn’t end the way Jayhawks fans wanted it to, one could hardly blame Cole Aldrich, who finished his career as probably the best all around big man to play at Kansas under Self.
That’s a mighty compliment, but the stats back it up. Aldrich ranked 4th in the Big 12 in box plus minus as a junior, and also led the league in block percentage. He was a go to scorer inside, with a usage rate just over 20 percent and a true shooting percentage near 60 percent, and he was also the best defensive big man in America. He wasn’t quite as mobile as Udoka Azubuike was this season, but he provided similar impact at the rim in an era when teams still tried to go inside more than they tried to bomb away from three. If you stuck him in 2020 college basketball he might not be as effective on the defensive end, but part of me thinks he would be able to figure it out like Azubuike did.
Aldrich also provided a ton of value in the lesser appreciated areas. He led the team in both offensive and defensive rebounding rate among rotation players, and ranked 1st and 2nd in the Big 12 among players who played in at least 60 percent of his team’s minutes. He also ranked 6th in the Big 12 in free throw rate among players who played that many minutes. While at the line, he shot about 68 percent, which is not great, but plenty good enough for a big man who gets fouled all the time.
He also showed up in the 2010 NCAA tournament loss to Northern Iowa with 13 points and 10 rebounds (including 5 offensive) and he also went 6-8 from the floor. It was tough to play him too much when Kansas was attempting to play fast and press to make the comeback, but then again if he had taken more than 8 shots, they probably wouldn’t have needed to come back at all.
Aldrich’s 2010 season was a bit of a step back from his 2009 season, but he still ranked 6th in the Big 12 in win shares (and 3rd per 40 minutes), led the league in defensive win shares, block percentage, and total rebounding percentage. He also currently ranks 3rd in Big 12 history in blocks in a career. Offensively, he was just as good, but was hampered by the fact the 2010 team had so many mouths to feed and was also hurt by the fact Kansas played through the wrong guy instead of Aldrich (more on that later). We’ll see his 2009 season much (much) later in this countdown, but his 2010 season was plenty good on its own.