College Hoops Week in Review: Doug McDermott and Kansas State


Player of the Week: Doug McDermott, Creighton

Doug McDermott shouldn’t have been a secret coming into the season, but if you didn’t know about him back in October you certainly should by now. If the season ended today, he’d be a first-team all-american. Arguing that he should be the National Player of the Year would actually have some merit. In fact, he’s been so good as a sophomore that its fair to say that Harrison Barnes played on McDermott’s high school team. Not the other way around.

Considering how well McDermott has played this season, its a difficult task taking him into consideration for Player of the Week simply because it takes so much for him to do something that is more than just par for the course. But that is exactly what he did this week. In an overpowering win at Tulsa, McDermott showcased his back-to-the-basket game, scoring 35 points while shooting 16-23 from the floor. The majority of those shots came on post-ups, and McDermott only went to the line once. That should tell you something about how fundamentally sound he is inside.

In a win against Northwestern later in the week, however, McDermott was back out on the perimeter. And not only was he knocking down jumper and jumper, he also handed out a season-high five assists (he had nine on the year heading into the game). All told, McDermott averaged 31.0 ppg and 6.0 rpg, hitting 26-37 from the field and 5-7 from three.

The All-They-Were-Good-Too Team:

G: Matt Carlino, BYU: Carlino has been a difference-maker for BYU since he suited up three games ago. Just a sophomore, he’s not he second-coming of The Jimmer (yet?), but he is a point guard that is capable of scoring, hitting threes and finding assists, the perfect kind of playmaker for a team with a pair of big men and a handful of shooters. In two wins last week, he averaged 16.0 ppg and 8.5 apg.

G: Jordan Theodore, Seton Hall: Seton Hall has been one of the biggest surprises of the young season, jumping out to 11-1 on the season. Perhaps their most impressive win on the year came this week when the Pirates visited Dayton. Theodore has sensational all year, but he shined this past week, averaging 20.0 ppg, 7.0 apg and 4.0 rpg in two wins.

F: Wendell McKines, New Mexico State: McKines has become a star for the 8-4 Aggies this season. While he’s already averaging a double-double, this past week really showed the nation what McKines is capable of. In two games, McKines averaged 21.5 ppg and 16.5 rpg.

F: Kevin Jones, West Virginia: So this is the Kevin Jones everyone thought that we would see last season. The senior has been nothing short of sensational this year, averaging 21.0 ppg and 11.9 rpg for a Mountaineer team that has proven as scrappy and competitive as, well, every Bob Huggins team ever. This past week, Jones averaged 23.0 ppg and 14.7 rpg in three games, including 28 points and 17 boards (six offensive) in an overtime loss to Baylor that saw KJ completely outplay Perry Jones III.

C: Meyers Leonard, Illinois: Leonard has been terrific this season, but this past week was as well as we have ever seen the seven-foot sophomore play. He averaged 16.5 ppg and 14.5 rpg in two games. But he also blocked five shots and shot 15-24 from the field. Perhaps the most impressive thing Leonard did this week was hand out seven assists, five of which came against Missouri.

Bench: Ike Azotam, Quinnipiac (32 pts, 9 rbs, 2 stls, W vs. Niagara); Harrison Barnes, UNC (26 pts, 10 rbs, W vs. Texas); Tyler Bernadini, Penn (30 pts, 8-11 3’s, W vs. Marist); Darien Brothers, Richmond (31.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 12-21 3’s); Darnell Dodson, Southern Miss (14.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, W’s vs. South Florida, Arizona State); Keith Gabriel, VMI (34 pts vs. Old Dominion); Solomon Hill, Arizona (18.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 3.5 apg); Zane Johnson, Hawaii (19.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 12 3’s); Kenny Kadji, Miami (18 pts, 10 rbs, 2 blks, W vs. Charlotte); DeAndre Kane, Marshall (29 pts, 4 rbs, 4 asts, 2 stls, W vs. Belmont); Kevin Olekaibe, Fresno State (29.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, W vs. Arizona State); Mike Scott, Virginia (33 pts, 14 rbs, W vs. Seattle); Russ Smith, Louisville (17.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.5 spg, 2-0 week); Evan Smotrycz, Michigan (20 pts, 10 rbs, 5-7 3’s, W vs. Bradley); Scott Thomas, Bowling Green (18 pts, 11 rbs, 7 asts, 4 stls, W vs. FIU); Alex Young, IUPUI (24.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.5 apg. 2.0 bpg, 2.0 spg, 2-0 week)

Team of the Week: Kansas State

The Wildcats are a team to keep an eye on this season. Coming off of a season that was more about what they lost — four players to transfer and Jacob Pullen to graduation — than what they won, no one really expected Kansas State to be much more than a bubble team. But fast-forward to December, and Frank Martin’s club has put together some impressive wins. They won at Virginia Tech. They knocked off Alabama at home. Their only loss on the season was in double-overtime to West Virginia.

And that doesn’t include K-State’s run through the field at the Diamondhead Classic, either. While the tournament wasn’t exactly loaded with Final Four contenders, the Wildcats did manage to knocked off both UTEP — who is underrated this season — and Long Beach State. There isn’t really a star on this team, but there are plenty of pieces to like Rodney McGruder showed what he is capable of with 28 points on 10-11 shooting in the win over LBSU. The three games prior to that, Angel Rodriguez was averaging 14.7 ppg and 4.0 apg. Will Spradling is as underrated as any guard in the Big 12. Jamar Samuels, Thomas Gibson and Jordan Henriquez? There may not be a front line better than that in the Big 12 beyond Baylor’s.

Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of this group is how physical, defensive-minded and competitive they are. They’ll be in every games they play this season.

Teams deserving a shout out:

Creighton: The Bluejays put together two solid wins this week as they went into Tulsa and knocked off the Golden Hurricane by 19 points, following that up with a very solid home win over Northwestern, a team that could very well end up earning an at-large bid before the year is over. We mentioned Doug McDermott above, but how about Grant Gibbs? He averaged 11.0 apg and 7.5 rpg on the week.

Davidson: Yeah, I know, the Wildcats lost at UMass on Thursday night, but that’s a game that Davidson is supposed to lose. So why is it noteworthy that it happened? Because just three days earlier the Wildcats had gone into Phog Allen Fieldhouse and beaten Kansas 80-74. More impressive still? Davidson didn’t turn the ball over the entire second half against the Jayhawks.

Georgetown: The Hoyas are going to be a serious factor in the Big East this season. Heading into the start of league play, Georgetown is 10-1 on the season, with their only loss coming to Kansas by four out in Maui. Most recently, Georgetown is coming off of a beatdown that they laid on the backs of Memphis in the Verizon Center. The thing I like the most about this Georgetown team is their length. They have a lot of kids on this roster that are tall with impressive athleticism, versatility and wingspans.

LSU: The Tiger’s win over Marquette on Monday night was impressive in-and-of-itself. They handled the No. 10 team in the country playing the way that the No. 10 team in the country usually plays. LSU followed that up by winning on the road at a North Texas team that is much better than their record indicates now that Tony Mitchell is eligible. The top five in the SEC is all-but set in stone. Could LSU really make a push to be the sixth-best team in the league?

New Mexico: The Lobos started out the season slowly, with an embarrassing performance out in the 76 Classic that resulted in many people writing this team off. But UNM hasn’t lost since, and they continued that streak with two wins this past week. Kendall Williams and Hugh Greenwood have seemingly found a nice rhythm sharing the ball-handling duties while Tony Snell is helping make up for the fact that Drew Gordon has yet to put it all together offensively.

Ohio: There is an argument to be made that the Bobcats are the best mid-major team in the country. After roughing up Northern Iowa on the road last week, OU is sitting pretty at 11-1 on the season with wins at Marshall and Oakland. Their only loss is a five point defeat that came at Louisville. DJ Cooper may be the most exciting point guard in the country to watch.

Oral Roberts: Just five days after they whooped up on short-handed Xavier by 22 points on the road, the Golden Eagles got 26 points out of leading scorer Dominique Morrison as they knocked off Billy Gillispie’s Texas Tech team by 16 points at home.

Seton Hall: The Pirates look like they just might be for real this season. With Big East play around the corner, Kevin Willard’s club is 11-1 on the season with a couple of solid wins — VCU, St. Joe’s, at Dayton. With Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope both playing the best basketball of their career, it will be interesting to see just how far this team is able to go this season. They head to Syracuse on Wednesday night, which will be a chance for us to see if they are ‘for real’.

UNLV: The Runnin’ Rebels continue to put together one of the more impressive resumes in the country. After knocking off Illinois by 16 last week, UNLV’s most impressive performance this week came against Cal, as the Rebels led by as much as 27 in their 85-68 win. More importantly, Anthony Marshall looks like he is finally starting to come around. Many people (myself included) had him pegged as a breakout player this season, but he has had a bit of an up-and-down year.

Utah State: After starting the year out just 4-5, the Aggies have now won four straight games and, seemingly, have righted the ship as they get ready for WAC play. The most impressive of those four wins came against Kent State, a game Utah State won by 19 points and led by as much as 29. Kyisean Reed had 27 on 12-13 shooting.

Wagner: Everyone had Wagner pegged as a program that would develop into a mid-major powerhouse under Danny Hurley, and they proved it on Friday night as the Seahawks were into the Peterson Events Center and knocked off the Panthers, 59-54. Its an impressive win, one that all but assures that the NEC race between CCSU, LIU, Robert Morris and Quinnipiac will be a fun one to watch.

Five Thoughts:

Does Long Beach State deserve an at-large bid?: From a talent perspective, yes. They do. There is no doubt in my mind that, if the 49ers don’t happen to win the automatic bid out of the Big West, they will be one of the 34 best at-large candidates. The issue is that getting to the dance in that situation is going to depend on their resume and not their ability on the court. That win at Pitt looks less impressive thanks to Wagner. The win over Xavier comes with an asterisk as Mark Lyons and Dez Wells weren’t available. LBSU then got worked by Kansas State in the finals of the Diamondhead Classic. My advice? Win the auto-bid. Do away with the guess work. Simply put — their resume may not be strong enough otherwise.

Is Kenny Kadji the answer in Miami?: The Hurricanes just got Reggie Johnson back, which means that they now have the powerful double-double presence on the block that they had been missing all season long. When you combine Johnson on the interior with the loaded back court that Jim Larranaga has at his disposal, its easy to see why many folks had Miami pegged as the third best team in the league heading into the season. But Kadji may be just an important to the Miami team. The 6’10” forward has found his shooting touch from the perimeter. After not hitting a single three-pointer in his career heading into the Dec. 10th game against West Virginia, the junior has now hit eight straight threes. His presence allows Miami to spread the floor and creates pace in the paint for both Johnson and the Canes’ backcourt.

Kyle Weems has struggled this year: Weems is having a rough start to the season. His scoring is down from last season (16.2 ppg to 14.3 ppg), his shooting numbers are down across the board and his efficiency rating is below 100 for the first time in the collegiate career. What’s wrong? Its simple — Weems is putting too much pressure on himself to carry the Bears. Playing with a brand-new roster and a retooled coaching staff is not an easy thing to do for the reigning MVC Player of the Year.

Tough loss for Stanford: The Cardinal were the team that everyone was talking about heading into Pac-12 play. Their only loss on the season came against Syracuse in MSG when Stanford led for the first 36 minutes of the game. That was prior to Thursday’s tilt with Butler, when Stanford lost 71-66 at home to a rebuilding Bulldog team that struggles to score. The loss isn’t going to look as bad on paper — Butler’s name has some prestige attached to it — as it will in the computers.

So who is your pick for the Pac-12? I’m going with Oregon State.

What’s wrong with the Panthers?: Coming into the season, Pitt had lost one non-conference games in the Peterson Events Center. After losing to Wagner on Friday night, the Panthers have now lost two this season. What’s wrong? Its simple — they can’t stop anyone. The idea that Pitt has been a dominant defensive team in the Jamie Dixon era is a fallacy; they have never forced enough turnovers. But they have always been somewhere within the top 25 to 50 teams in defensive efficiency according to Kenpom. This season? They are 149th.

In the past, Pitt would make their opponents take tough shots and limit them to one shot per possession. They are still rebounding the ball well this year (they lead the country in offensive rebounding percentage and are top 30 in defensive rebounding percentage) but there are simply fewer defensive rebounds this year; opponents are getting more open looks and missing fewer jumpers this season. If Pitt wants to turn this thing around, it starts with their defense.

Games of the Week:

No. 7 Baylor 83, West Virginia 81 OT:


No. 8 Missouri 78, Illinois 74: Missouri jumped out to a big first half lead on the Illini in the Braggin’ Rights game, but seldom-used wing Joseph Bertrand led Illinois on the comeback trail. He scored 19 points in the second half on 9-9 shooting, and the Illini erased what had been a 13 point lead with 13 minutes left. But Missouri went on a late 7-0 run — to turn a 70-68 deficit into a 75-70 lead with under a minute left — to hold on for the win. Phil Pressey and Michael Dixon combined for 36 points in the win.

West Virginia 60, Missouri State 58 OT: West Virginia was down by five with just 45 seconds left in regulation, but freshman Gary Browne capped the comeback with a tough, fall away three with 1.6 seconds left on the clock. The ‘Eers took the early lead in OT, and Nathan Scheer missed a jumper in the lane as time expired. Kevin Jones had 16 points and 13 boards in the win.

Matchups of the Week:

– 12/28 7:00 pm: No. 12 Georgetown @ No. 4 Louisville
– 12/28 7:30 pm: No. 15 Indiana @ No. 17 Michigan State
– 12/28 8:00 pm: Missouri State @ No. 19 Creighton
– 12/28 9:00 pm: No. 14 Mississippi State @ No. 7 Baylor
– 12/29 9:00 pm: Vanderbilt @ No. 13 Marquette
– 12/29 11:00 pm: BYU @ St. Mary’s
– 12/30 8:00 pm: Oakland @ South Dakota State
– 12/31 12:00 pm: No. 4 Louisville @ No. 3 Kentucky
– 12/31 6:00 pm: No. 2 Ohio State @ No. 15 Indiana
– 12/31 6:00 pm: No. 19 Creighton @ Wichita State
– 12/31 6:00 pm: St. Louis @ New Mexico
– 12/31 8:00 pm: Gonzaga @ Xavier

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Purdue’s Edey returning to school at NBA draft deadline; Kentucky’s Tshiebwe stays in

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Purdue’s Zach Edey decided it was the right call to go back to school instead of staying in the NBA draft. His predecessor as national player of the year, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, is sticking with his pro pursuit.

And Connecticut’s reign as NCAA champion will begin with multiple starters having left for the NBA draft and one returning after flirting with doing the same.

The 7-foot-4 Edey and UConn guard Tristen Newton were among the notable names to announce that they were withdrawing from the draft, the NCAA’s deadline for players who declared as early entrants to pull out and retain their college eligibility.

Edey’s decision came in social media posts from both the center and the Boilermakers program that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament behind Edey, The Associated Press men’s national player of the year.

But Tshiebwe announced late in the afternoon that he would remain in the draft after a college career that included being named the AP national player of the year in 2022.

For the current champions, Newton (10.1 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds) is returning after being one of four Huskies to declare for the draft after a run to UConn’s fifth national championship in early April. He scored a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds in the victory over San Diego State in the title game.

The others were Final Four Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo, wing Jordan Hawkins and versatile guard Andre Jackson Jr. Sanogo (17.8 points) and Hawkins (16.3) have made it clear they have closed the door on their college careers, while team spokesman Phil Chardis said that Jackson (6.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists) would remain in the draft.

The Huskies have 247sports’ No. 3-ranked recruiting class for next year to restock the roster, led by McDonald’s All-American point guard Stephon Castle.

The NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 12, but is moot when it comes to college players returning to school due to the NCAA’s earlier timeline to retain playing eligibility.


TREY ALEXANDER: Creighton gets back a 6-4 guard who averaged 13.6 points and shot 41% from 3-point range in his first full season as a starter.

ADEM BONA: The 6-foot-10 forward and Pac-12 freshman of the year is returning to UCLA after starting 32 games as a rookie and averaging 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks – with coach Mick Cronin praising his toughness for “competing through multiple injuries for as long as he could” in a statement Wednesday.

EDEY: He averaged 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists while shooting 60.7% from the field. His presence alone helps Purdue be a factor in the Big Ten race.

JOSIAH-JORDAN JAMES: The 6-6 guard went through the NBA G League Combine and had workouts with multiple teams before opting to return to Tennessee for a fifth season alongside teammate Santiago Vescovi.

JUDAH MINTZ: The 6-3 freshman averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists for Syracuse, ranking third among Division I freshmen in scoring behind only Alabama’s Brandon Miller and Lamar’s Nate Calmese.

OWLS’ RETURNEES: Florida Atlantic got good news after its surprise Final Four run with the return leading scorers Johnell Davis (13.8) and Alijah Martin (13.4). ESPN first reported their decisions, while Martin later posted a social media statement.

TERRENCE SHANNON JR.: Illinois got a big boost with Shannon announcing his night in a social media post. The 6-6 guard is returning for a fifth college season after averaging 17.2 points.

SPARTANS’ RETURNEES: Michigan State announced that guards Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard have withdrawn from the NBA draft. Standout guard Tyson Walker had previously withdrawn in April, setting up Tom Izzo to have five of his top scorers back.


KOBE BROWN: Missouri’s 6-8 swingman opted against returning for a fifth college season after being an AP first-team all-Southeastern Conference pick averaging 15.8 points last season.

JAYLEN CLARK: The third-year UCLA guard averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while leading the Pac-12 with 2.6 steals en route to being named Naismith national defensive player of the year. Cronin called him a winner with strong intangibles who made UCLA “a better program because he chose to be a Bruin.”

BRICE SENSABAUGH: The Ohio State freshman averaged 16.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 31 games before missing his final two in the Big Ten Tournament due to a knee injury. He’s a potential first-round prospect.

TSHIEBWE: The 6-9, 260-pound forward is a tough interior presence who led the country in rebounds for two straight seasons (15.1 in 2022, 13.7 in 2023) while racking up 48 double-doubles. But he faces an uncertain next stop and is projected at best as a second-round prospect.

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love commits to Arizona

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Caleb Love is now headed to Arizona.

The North Carolina transfer tweeted, less than a month after decommitting from Michigan, that he will play next season with the Wildcats.

“Caleb is a tremendously talented guard who has significant experience playing college basketball at a high level,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said in a statement. “We look forward to helping Caleb grow his game at Arizona. And as we near the completion of the roster for the upcoming season, we feel great about how everything has come together. Now it’s time for the real work to start.”

A 6-foot-4 guard, Love averaged 14.6 points and 3.3 assists in three seasons at North Carolina. He averaged 17.6 points in seven NCAA Tournament games, helping lead the Tar Heels to the 2022 national championship game.

Love entered the transfer portal after leading North Carolina with 73 3-pointers as a junior and initially committed to Michigan. He decommitted from the Wolverines earlier this month, reportedly due to an admissions issue involving academic credits.

Love narrowed his transfer targets to three schools before choosing to play at Arizona over Gonzaga and Texas.

Love will likely start on a team that will have dynamic perimeter players, including Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

kansas mccullar
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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”