WE'RE Baaaaaackkkkk....

LAWRENCE, Kan. - In addition to sharing the Danny Manning "Mr. Jayhawk" Award at the 2008-09 Kansas men's basketball banquet, the Jayhawk duo of Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich announced they were returning for the 2009-10 season before a capacity crowd of more than 600 Monday evening.

"I can't wait for next year when we try to go for one more," Cole Aldrich said showing the crowd his 2008 national championship ring.

"Like Cole said, I will be back next year to try and win another national championship," Sherron Collins said to a standing ovation.

Following a welcome from Director of Athletics Lew Perkins, dinner and a highlight video, Kansas head coach Bill Self recognized Jayhawk seniors Brennan Bechard and Matt Kleinmann.

Self then presented Collins and Aldrich with the Danny Manning "Mr. Jayhawk" Award as chosen by their teammates and basketball staff. In their acceptance speech, each confirmed they were staying for the 2009-10 season.  Many prognosticators have selected Kansas, which went 27-8 and advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2008-09, as a top-five team nationally should Collins and Aldrich return. ESPN's Dick Vitale has named Kansas as his No. 1 team entering next season.

"Cole and Sherron had an opportunity to go and do some things right now," Self said. "And how much do they love this place. Cole said if I can wait one more year, I can get so close to getting my degree and graduate from Kansas and have the time of my life. And here is Sherron who will come back for his fourth year and he will graduate because he needs only 20 hours after this year, have a chance to be an All-American and have the chance to do what they both want to do, be part of a legacy that brings home two national championships."

Collins led Kansas in scoring 27 times, including the last 10 games of the season. The Chicago junior guard received All-America accolades from the NABC (10-member team), USBWA (second team), CBSSportsline (second team), Associated Press (third team) and Sporting News (third team). He was an All-Big 12 First Team selection and a finalist for the Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson awards. Additionally, Collins was a three-time Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week honoree and member of the CBE Classic All-Tournament Team. He also set the Kansas consecutive free throw record with 35 straight during Big 12 play and recorded 14 games of 20-plus points, including a career-high 32 points against North Dakota State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Collins ranked among Big 12 leaders in points (third at 18.9 ppg), assists (fifth at 5.0 apg), field goal percentage (ninth at 43.4 percent), free throw percentage (ninth at 79.5 percent), three-point field goals made (10th at 2.2) and assist-to-turnover ratio (13th at 1.5).

Aldrich led the Big 12 in blocked shots with 2.7 per game and also ranked among the Big 12 leaders in rebounds (second at 11.1 rpg), field goal percentage (second at 59.8 percent) and free throw percentage (10th at 79.2 percent). The Bloomington, Minn., center was an All-Big 12 First Team selection and was the Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year.   Aldrich also earned Academic All-Big 12 Second Team honors. He recorded the first official triple-double in school history with 13 points, 20 rebounds and a school-record 10 blocked shots against Dayton in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and was later named to the NCAA Tournament All-Midwest Regional Team. Aldrich led Kansas in rebounding in 30 of 35 games and was an Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention selection. His 94 blocked shots are second on the KU single-season list (Greg Ostertag with 97 in 1993-94). Aldrich was second in the Big 12 with 21 double-doubles, which ranks second on the Kansas single-season list (25 by Drew Gooden in 2002). He was one of only two conference players to average a double-double with 14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. National player of the year Blake Griffin of Oklahoma was the other. Aldrich pulled down 20 rebounds twice - at Oklahoma and vs. Dayton in 2008-09.

Kleinmann, from Overland Park, Kan., was part of five straight Big 12 regular-season championships, three Big 12 Tournament titles, three NCAA Tournament Sweet 16s, two Elite Eights, one Final Four and the 2008 NCAA National Championship. A Lawrence product, Bechard transferred to KU from Barton County College and has been part of KU's success each of the last three seasons. Bechard and Kleinmann were both invited walk-ons.

Story courtesy:  KUAC

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