Bubble banter: Ole Miss among those trying to crash the dance


The bubble reached new heights and depths on Friday.  That leaves us with about 11 spots up for grabs.  We have potential party crashers in Conference USA (Marshall), SEC (Ole Miss), and Atlantic 10 (St. Bonaventure/Massachusetts).  The Pac-12 will have an upset winner, too – with Arizona and Colorado in the championship game.   Then there’s NC State, which can greatly improve its position by beating North Carolina in the ACC semis.

Here’s your latest and final bubble update.  Selection Sunday is just one day away.

Bubble Banter highlights the teams we believe are on the NCAA Bubble. If a team isn’t listed, they aren’t a bubble team at the time of the update. RPI and SOS data is credited to CollegeRPI.com.

RPI data is for games played through Friday, March 9. Records reflect games through Friday, March 9.

UPDATED: Saturday, March 10 | 11:45 a.m. ET

Total Spots (68): Number of teams in the Field.

Automatic Bids (31): Murray State (OVC), Belmont (A-SUN), UNC-Asheville (Big South), VCU (Colonial), Loyola-Md (MAAC), Creighton (MVC), Harvard (IVY), Western Kentucky (Sun Belt), South Dakota State (Summit), Detroit (Horizon), LIU-Brooklyn (NEC), Lehigh (Patriot), Montana (Big Sky), Davidson (Southern)

  • Projected Locks (32): Teams who project to have secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Should Be In (5): These teams are in solid position to receive an at-large bid.
  • Bubble: (28): Teams projected to be under consideration for at-large selection.
  • Spots Available (11): Estimated number of openings after Automatic Bids, Locks, and Should Be Ins are considered.
  • RPI and SOS: RPI and SOS data are updated through games completed on Friday, March 9.
Atlantic 10
Locks: Temple | Should Be In: St. Louis | Bubble: Dayton, St. Joe’s, Xavier
  • Dayton (20-12 | 9-7) | RPI: 79 | SOS: 67 | – The Flyers have eight Top 100 RPI wins, including victories over Temple, Alabama, and Xavier. The Flyers have also beaten Ole Miss and Minnesota. But troubling losses – particularly defeats to sub-200 RPI teams Miami-OH and Rhode Island really hurt UD’s profile. A loss to Xavier in the A10 quarterfinals and a sinking RPI will probably push the Flyers into the NIT.
  • St. Joe’s (20-13 | 9-7) | RPI: 70 | SOS: 54 | – St. Joe’s stayed in the bracket for a while thanks to good non-conference wins over Creighton and Drexel. They also beat Temple. But a loss to St. Bonaventure in the A10 quarterfinals – their second defeat to the Bonnies in two weeks – probably drops SJU below the cutline.
  • Xavier (29-11 | 10-6) | RPI: 44 | SOS: 45 | – Non-conference wins over Vanderbilt, Purdue, and Cincinnati continue to help the Muskies. And a come-from-behind win against rival Dayton in the A10 quarterfinals keeps XU in the picture. Xavier is 8-10 vs. the Top 100 which actually looks pretty good these days compared to other bubble teams. A victory over St. Louis in the A10 semis likely seals it for the Musketeers.
Locks: Duke, North Carolina, Florida State | Should Be In: Virginia | Bubble: Miami-FL, NC State, Virginia
  • Miami-FL (19-12 | 9-7) | RPI: 59 | SOS: 43 | – Miami has a huge win at Duke and a victory over Florida State at home. But they are just 3-11 vs. Top 100 teams. They have also lost Durand Scott to indefinte suspension. That could work against the Canes. So will a quarterfinal loss to Florida State. Miami isn’t dead-in-the-water, but they will most likely need help. On a side note, the Canes were swept by NC State.
  • NC State (22-11 | 9-7) | RPI: 49 | SOS: 32 | – The Wolfpack have a season sweep of Miami and a neutral court win over Texas. But a 1-7 mark vs. the Top 50 remains troubling – although Virginia and Miami are in the 50-60 range. NC state is 6-9 vs. the Top 100. The Wolfpack are right on the cutline at the moment. If they find a way to beat North Carolina in the ACC semis that would probably be enough. If the Wolfpack fall short, it may very well depend on how those final few spots shake out.
Locks: Syracuse, Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville, Notre Dame, Cincinnati | Should Be In: Connecticut | Bubble: Seton Hall, South Florida, West Virginia
  • Seton Hall (20-12 | 8-10) | RPI: 62 | SOS: 44 | – The Pirates ended their season with a loss to Louisville in the second round of the Big East tournament Wednesday night. That’s 3 losses in 4 games – including dropped games to Rutgers and DePaul. Victories over VCU, St. Joe’s and Dayton will help, along with wins over Georgetown, Connecticut, and West Virginia. SHU finished 7-9 vs. the Top 100. That may keep SHU as one of the 37 best at-large teams, but these are anxious moments.
  • South Florida (19-12 | 12-6) | RPI: 44 | SOS: 24 | – USF completed its season with an overtime loss to Notre Dame in the Big East quarters. Despite 12 regular-season Big East wins, only two were against Top 50 opponents (Louisville, Cincy). Outside the BE, the Bulls managed to beat Cleveland State, that’s about it. USF ended 5-8 on the road and just 6-10 vs. the top 100. They lost to Penn State and Auburn.
  • West Virginia (19-13 | 9-9) | RPI: 51 | SOS: 14 | – The Mountaineers fell in overtime Wednesday to Connecticut and the wait continues. With victories over Kansas State and Miami-Fla outside the conference, the Mountaineers likely still have an inside track to a bid. They finised 9-11 vs. Top 100 teams and beat Georgetown, Cincinnati and South Florida in the Big East. A top 20 SOS will help. WVU had five losses to Top 35 RPI teams by a total of 11 points.
BIG 10
Locks: Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Purdue | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Northwestern
  • Northwestern (18-13 | 8-10) | RPI: 61 | SOS: 18 | – The Wildcats ended their season with a 1-10 mark vs. Top 50 teams and a 5-12 mark vs. Top 100 teams. NW has a marquee win over Michigan State and a bubble win over Seton Hall. The loss to Minnesota in the opening round of the Big Ten tourney will be hard to overlook, however. Close losses help Northwestern, but it’s looking less likely they will be enough to warrant an NCAA at-large bid.
BIG 12
Locks: Baylor, Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State, Iowa State | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Texas
  • Texas (20-13 | 9-9) | RPI: 48 | SOS: 19 | – The Longhorns beat Iowa State for a second time to give them 4 wins against Top 50 opponents. A strong SOS is helping, but like many other bubble teams, the Horns have a troubling mark against the Top 100 (4-11). Texas did not beat any of the Big 12’s best teams. The Longhorns’ best out-of-conference wins are UT-Arlington and UCLA. Tense times in Austin.
Locks: Memphis | Should Be In: Southern Mississippi | Bubble: Central Florida, Marshall
  • Central Florida (20-10 |10-6) | RPI: 55 | SOS: 76 | – We’ll leave the Knights on the at-large board, but they have certainly fallen off the pace and are probably done. They were blown out by Memphis in the C-USA tourney. A 3-7 mark vs. Top 100 teams isn’t helping.
  • Marshall (19-9 |10-6) | RPI: 61 | SOS: 89 | – The Herd’s win at Cincinnati keeps looking better, and Marshall also handily beat fellow bubble team Iona. That said, UM may still need to beat Memphis and win the league’s auto bid. Beating Southern Miss in the semis improved Marshall to 4-4 vs. the Top 50. A Top 10 non-conference schedule will also be noticed.
Locks: Wichita State, Creighton | Should Be In: None | Bubble: None
  • Creighton won the automatic bid and ensured that the MVC will be a two-bid league.
Locks: UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Colorado State
  • Colorado State (19-11 | 8-6) | RPI: 27 | SOS: 5 | – The Rams have beaten UNLV, San Diego State and New Mexico at home, and their power numbers are very strong, if not slightly inflated. The concerns are a 3-9 road record – CSU’s best road win is UTEP (No. 158) – and nothing out of conference other than a win over Montana. Losing to SDSU in the semifinals leaves the door open for Colorado State to be squeezed.
PAC 12
Locks: None | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington
  • Arizona (22-10 | 12-6) | RPI: 73 | SOS: 115 | – The Wildcats ended their regular season with a horrible loss at Arizona State but managed to reach the Pac-12 title game against Colorado. With a weak 1-3 mark vs. Top 50 teams, a runner-up finish may not be enough. Arizona’s best non-conference win is New Mexico State.
  • California (24-9 | 13-5) | RPI: 36 | SOS: 83 | – With nine (9) Top 100 wins, Cal continues to have the best at-large resume of the Pac-12 group. At the same time, the Bears are 0-3 vs the Top 50 and have not beaten a team that would be at at-large team in the NCAA as of this update.
  • Colorado (22-8 | 13-5) | RPI: 71 | SOS: 81 | – The Buffaloes’ profile is improving among the Pac-12 contenders. If that means much. Colorado has beaten Cal twice (after winning late Friday in the Paac-12 tourney), Oregon twice, and Washington once. Like everyone else here, however, there’s nothing outside the league. So CU’s best bet is to win the automatic bid.
  • Oregon (22-8 | 13-5) | RPI: 64 | SOS: 94 | – A loss to Colorado in the Pac-12 quarters probably ended the Ducks’ at-large hopes. Oregon finished 0-4 vs. Top 50 teams and 5-8 vs. the Top 100.
  • Washington (21-10 | 14-4) | RPI: 54 | SOS: 83 | – The Huskies will present an interest test case for the committee. They won the outright Pac-12 title. Historically, leaving out the Huskies would be rare, given the league’s stature as a BCS conference. But this is a historically bad year for the Pac-12, and Washington is 0-4 vs. Top 50 teams and 4-8 vs. the Top 100. Neither of those inspire confidence as an at-large selection.
Locks: Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt | Should Be In: Alabama | Bubble: Mississippi State, Mississippi, Tennessee
  • Mississippi State (21-11 | 8-8) | RPI: 74 | SOS: 71 | – The Bulldogs ended their season with a surprising loss to Georgia in the SEC’s first round. But with 7 Top 100 wins (7-9), and a non-conference win over West Virginia, MSU might be able to survive a very bubbly profile. Still, MSU (2-4 vs. Top 50 teams) is certainly in danger of being squeezed.
  • Mississippi (21-10 | 8-8) | RPI: 65 | SOS: 66 | – The Rebels are alive in the SEC tourney and have moved onto the bubble after a win over Tennessee on Friday. A 1-6 mark vs. Top 50 teams is an issue, and a 6-11 mark vs. the Top 100 looks like a half-dozen other teams. A win over Miami-Fla could help some, but Ole Miss probably has to upset Vandy to have a realistic at-large chance.
  • Tennessee (17-14 | 10-6) | RPI: 84 | SOS: 31 | – How the Committee evaluates the arrival of Jarnell Stokes in early January will be a major factor for the Vols. That said, Friday’s loss to Ole Miss drops UT’s RPI into very dangerous territory. There’s also 14 losses overall. The Vols beat Florida twice, and topped Vandy and Connecticut. But a 3-11 mark away from home is concerning.
Locks: St. Mary’s, Gonzaga | Should Be In: None | Bubble: BYU
  • BYU (23-8 | 12-4) | RPI: 43 | SOS: 99 | – BYU failed in its attempt to beat Gonzaga a second time and finished 1-4 vs the Zags and St. Mary’s. If the Cougars miss the NCAAs that will be one reason why. Their best non-conference victories are Nevada and Oregon. Good wins, but perhaps not enough to make an NCAA bid hold up. BYU is a team that could easily be squeezed if bids get tight. Their resume is complete. It will be a long wait until Selection Sunday.
Locks: None | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Drexel, Iona, Long Beach State, Middle Tennessee State, Oral Roberts
  • Drexel (27-6 | 16-2) | RPI: 66 | SOS: 213 |The Dragons may prove to be the ultimate “eye test” team for this year’s Selection Committee. Drexel had won 19 straight games before losing in the CAA championship to VCU. They were also the outright regular-season champions of the Colonial. Strictly by the numbers, Drexel finished 1-2 vs. Top 50 teams and just 4-3 against the Top 100. While they lost to St. Joseph’s and Virginia, Drexel beat Cleveland State by 20 on the road. All the Dragons can do now is wait and hope a few other things fall their way.
  • Iona (25-7 | 15-3) | RPI: 41 | SOS: 144 | – The Gaels ended their season by losing to Fairfield in the MAAC semifinals. Now, it’s a long wait until Selection Sunday. Iona has to hope that wins over Nevada and St. Joseph’s hold up and that a few things go their way. The Gaels finished 1-1 vs. the Top 50 and 5-3 vs. the Top 100. Losses to sub-200 teams Siena and Hofstra may ultimately doom Iona to the NIT.
  • Long Beach State (21-8 | 15-1) | RPI: 37 | SOS: 130 | – The 49ers nearly completed a perfect Big West season. And while early wins over Pittsburgh and Xavier help, they aren’t as strong as once thought. LBSU played the No. 1 non-conference schedule but went 0-6 vs. Top 50 teams and just 2-7 vs. the Top 100. Several close losses will help, but how much?
  • Middle Tennesse State (24-6 | 14-2) | RPI: 57 | SOS: 181 | – The Blue Raiders’ chances are very slim after losing in the Quarterfinals of the Sun Belt tournament. Their best wins are Ole Miss, Akron and Belmont. But they ended the season with back-to-back losses to Western Kentucky and Arkansas State (both sub-200 teams). MTSU ended 0-1 vs. Top 50 teams.
  • Oral Roberts (27-6 | 17-1) | RPI: 50 | SOS: 191 | – ORU beat Xavier, Missouri State, and Akron (BracketBusters) in non-conference play, although XU was without several players. But a loss to Western Illinois in the league tournament semis puts a damper on the Eagles’ at-large hopes. They finished 0-2 vs. Top 50 teams and just 3-3 against the Top 100. ORU has to hope a dominate season in the Summit is enough.

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.”