Former Kansas Jayhawks star big men Nick Collison and Cole Aldrich are headed to the NBA Finals, after the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the San Antonio Spurs 107-99 to extend their postseason dominance. The Spurs, regarded with the Thunder as the team to beat in the West, went down in six games after taking a 2-0 series lead.
In the final game, gritty interior defensive player Nick Collison finished with four rebounds in seven minutes. Cole Aldrich, a more recent star at KU, did not play in the game.
In 2010 while with the Jayhawks, Aldrich was a consensus second-team All-American and was an NCAA Champion in the 2008 season. He recorded a triple double in the NCAA Tournament against Dayton as a sophomore for the first triple-double in team history. He also averaged a double-double with a 15-11 average through the first 29 games of the season.
He never lost at the Allen Fieldhouse, and Aldrich was the Academic All-American of the Year in 2009. He was the 11th pick in the draft by the New Orleans Hornets a year later and was traded to the Thunder on the day of the draft. I’m sure he’s happy about the trade looking at how bad the Hornets are. Spending most of his time in the D-Leagues, Aldrich averaged 10-9-3 and received limited minutes when with the Thunder.
Nick Collison still lives in Seattle even after the franchise’s move to Oklahoma City, and the big is similar to Aldrich in that he was the 12th pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. Collison helped KU notch two Final Four appearances with current Atlanta Hawks point guard Kirk Hinrich running the show with Collison and forming a dynamic duo.
Nowadays, Hinrich is known for his solid shooting and good passing in the NBA. Collison is known as a gritty, underrated stopper. The #4 was retired by the Jayhawks in honor of the school’s star and FIBA U-21 player. Collison spent all four of his special seasons with KU, with his 2002 NCAA Player of the Year season in 2002 being one of the best in team history.
Aldrich, Collison, and the Thunder will either match up against Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics or Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat as far as KU stars go. Chalmers’s shot is fresh in our minds, but it is more likely that Aldrich will face off against Pierce than the Heat and his former PG.
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