2016 NBA DRAFT EARLY ENTRY LIST: A complete list of who’s in, who’s out and who has an agent

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

There are new rules when it comes to early entry into the 2016 NBA Draft. It now works like this: Any player in the country, after their freshman season, can declare for the draft as many as three times, going through the evaluation process and, if they’re good enough, getting an invite to the NBA Draft Combine and working out with NBA teams so long as they A) Do not sign with an agent and B) remove their name from draft consideration within 10 days of the combine ending.

This season that deadline is May 25th.

Which means that we’re going to see a lot of names popping up in NBA Draft early entry lists that don’t really make all that much sense. They’re not all going to get invited to the combine, either, but it’s still the smart move for those with professional ambitions.

Think about it like this: If you’re, say, Makai Mason, Yale’s sophomore point guard, you’re within driving distance of both Boston and New York. So even if he doesn’t get an invite to the combine, if the Knicks, the Nets or the Celtics need an emergency fill-in for a workout, he’d be able to get there within 90 minutes. Then the worst-case scenario is that he’ll return to school knowing what he has to improve on to try and earn a spot in the draft the following year.

That’s a good thing for the kids, even if it does mean that some of the coaches around the country are going to be sipping their maalox on the rocks as they wait to find out if their starting point guard is going to pull their name back out draft consideration.

Don’t pity them, though. They get paid seven-figure salaries to deal with the stress that comes with ensuring that the unpaid, amateur athletes they are mentoring get the most information possible while they try and make the most important decision of their lives.

But that’s another topic for another day.

Back to my point, the only names that truly matter on this list are the ones that have signed with an agent.

So here’s our updated, unofficial list of players that have declared. If there are any additions that need to be made, tweet them to @RobDauster.


Wade Baldwin IV, Vanderbilt, So: Vanderbilt is going to be in rebuilding mode next season. Not only did they lose Kevin Stallings, their head coach, but their star point guard is gone and, in all likelihood, Damian Jones will follow him out the door.

Cat Barber, N.C. State, Jr: Barber is an interesting prospect. He’s not projected as a superstar at the next level, but he proved about all that he could prove this past season and would have to split point guard duties next season with Dennis Smith. He’s likely a second round pick.

Malik Beasley, Florida State, Fr: Beasley was one of the best freshman in the country this past season despite entering the year as a top 50ish recruit. Part of the reason: increased efficiency. He’s a late-first round pick or an early-second round pick.

Deandre Bembry, Saint Joseph’s, Jr: Bembry is a borderline first round pick and one of the more versatile small forwards in the draft. His loss, and the graduation of Isaiah Miles, is a brutal blow for a Saint Joe’s program that reached the second round this season.

Jaylen Brown, Cal, Fr: It was only a matter of time until Brown declared for the draft. A 6-foot-6 power wing, Brown had a solid season, one where he improved greatly by the end of the season. He’s a likely top ten pick and could end up in the top five.

Kareem Canty, Auburn, Jr: Canty left school in the middle of the season and announced that he would be turning pro. I do not expect to hear is name called during the draft.

Robert Carter, Maryland, Jr: Carter had a solid-if-unimpressive junior season with Maryland, as the Terps struggled to a No. 5 seed and a trip to the Sweet 16. He’s versatile and he has good size, the question is who he’ll defend at the next level. He’s a second round pick.

Marquese Chriss, Washington, Fr: Chriss didn’t enroll at Washington as a one-and-done guy, but it became clear by the end of the season that he had a chance to be really good. He’s got all the physical tools to be a star and a long way to go to get there. He’s a prototype boom-or-bust lottery pick.

Deyonta Davis, Michigan State, Fr: Davis was a late-bloomer, not bursting onto the national scene until late in the recruiting process. He’s a physical specimen with all kinds of potential, but he’s more of a project than an instant impact kind of guy. He’s looking at getting picked in the lottery.

Kris Dunn, Providence, Jr: There was no surprise here with Dunn leaving early. Technically, he’s not even leaving early; he graduated from Providence after four years in school. He redshirted due to injury as a freshman.

Henry Ellenson, Marquette, Fr: There is no surprise in Ellenson’s decision to head to the NBA. He put up huge numbers in his one season with the Golden Eagles and is an attractive, versatile offensive talent, but there are some defensive red flags. He’ll likely end up in the top ten.

Kay Felder, Oakland, Jr: Felder was one of the most productive players in the country this past season, averaging 24.4 points and 9.3 assists. He’s only 5-foot-9 and played in a system that was conducive to massive numbers, but he’s talented enough that he’ll likely get picked somewhere in the second round.

Brannen Greene, Kansas, Jr: Greene has some potential as an NBA player given his height and his shooting ability, but I think his decision to the NBA had as much to do with the fact that he and Bill Self kept butting heads. Plus, with Kansas landing Josh Jackson, Greene would be coming off the bench as a senior.

Daniel Hamilton, UConn, So: Hamilton put up big numbers all season long but he’s a less-than-stellar athlete and a guy that never seemed to be the best player on the floor. Second round pick.

Brandon Ingram, Duke, Fr: Ingram could very well end up being the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. He was never anything other than a one-and-done prospect.

Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame, Jr: I think Jackson has a bright future in the NBA. He’s small but super-athletic with deep range, a nice handle and the ability to operate in pick-and-rolls. He’ll be a nice piece off the bench for an NBA team early in his career.

Stefan Jankovic, Hawai’i, Jr: I’m not sure Jankovic is going to be drafted, but it makes sense for him to move on. He spent four years on campus and will have a lucrative professional career wherever he ends up.

Damian Jones, Vanderbilt, Jr: Jones had a disappointing season for the Commodores in 2015-16, as he averaged just 13.9 points and 6.9 boards for projected top 15 team that stumbled their way into the First Four. He’s big and he’s athletic and he’s relatively young for a junior, but he doesn’t have much of a feel for the game or an ability to dominate on the glass.

Derrick Jones, UNLV, Fr: Derrick Jones could legitimately win the NBA dunk contest next season. That’s assuming he’s actually in the NBA. My guess? He goes undrafted.

Skal Labissiere, Kentucky, Fr: Smart move by Labissiere. The right move. I explain that here.

Thon Maker, High School: Maker is an interesting case. He’s had an incredible amount of hype surrounding him — mostly due to the fact that a few uninformed voices declared him the second-coming of Kevin Durant off of a mixtape — but he’s limited as a prospect. He’s a seven-footer with three point range, and the combination of his high-release and bald-head have inevitably led to Kevin Garnett comparisons. But Maker is not a fluid or particularly explosive athlete, and he’s got a long way to go to develop his game to the point that he can have an impact in college. Someone is going to fall in love with his potential in the mid-to-late first round.

Pat McCaw, UNLV, So: McCaw is a really intriguing prospect, with great size, length and skill for a two-guard. He was sensational early in the year but tailed off down the stretch. A border-line first rounder.

Lee Moore, UTEP, Jr: Moore averaged 14.1 points for UTEP last season. That’s good. Not good enough for him to hope for anything more than a late second round flier.

Dejounte Murray, Washington, Fr: Murray is a 6-foot-5 lead guard with a crazy wingspan that can beat a defender off the dribble, but he turns the ball over a ton and he was an inconsistent three-point shooter. He’s got a chance to be a late first round pick, but I think he gets picked in the early second round.

Jamal Murray, Kentucky, Fr: Again, the right decision here by Jamal Murray. He’s a projected top ten pick now that he’s embraced playing off the ball.

Chris Obekpa, UNLV, Jr: Obekpa sat out this past season at UNLV after transferring out of St. John’s. He’s an elite shotblocker … but that’s about it.

Goodluck Okonoboh, UNLV, So: Okonoboh entered the draft after transferring out of UNLV during the midseason. He’s long and he’s athletic, but UNLV was never able to get the most out of him.

Jakob Poeltl, Utah, So: Poeltl was projected as a first round pick after his freshman season, but he returned to school for his sophomore year and turned into one of the more improved players in the country. He added a low-post game and developed his ability to pass out of double teams. He’ll likely be a top ten pick.

Tim Quarterman, LSU, Jr: Quarterman is an interesting prospect, a big wing with handle and three-point range. How much did he hurt his stock playing on a team that was as disappointing as LSU this season?

Jalen Reynolds, Xavier, Jr: Reynolds is 23 years old and already has his degree in hand, so it’s not that much of a surprise that he’s leaving school, but it doesn’t mean he’s necessarily headed to the NBA. Reynolds is a ferocious athlete that never quite developed the way that Xavier had expected him to.

Domas Sabonis, Gonzaga, So: Sabonis is an intriguing prospect. He doesn’t have the physical tools and measureables that scouts love, but he’s a tough lefty that plays hard and rebounds, which are two things that translate well to the next level. He’ll likely be a mid-to-late first round pick.

Wayne Selden, Kansas, Jr: Selden finally showed what made him a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school, albeit in flashes this season. He’s a projected second round pick.

Ben Simmons, LSU, Fr: Simmons is projected as one of the top two picks in the NBA Draft and could very well end up being the first pick. He just didn’t have much interest in being in college.

Diamond Stone, Maryland, Fr: Stone entered the 2015-16 season as a top ten prospect, but a good-but-not-great freshman season has him looking like a late-first round pick. He’s big and he’s strong, but the perimeter skill he showed off in high school was non-existent at Maryland.

Isaiah Taylor, Texas, Jr: Taylor announced that he plans to sign with an agent and remain in the draft, which is a brutal blow for a Texas team that is now left with a young, albeit talented, back court that lacks a true point guard. Taylor is super-quick and has a terrific floater, but he’s small and his jump shot is lacking, which are two things that will hinder his draft stock. He’s a second round pick if he gets drafted.

Tyler Ulis, Kentucky, So: In October, I would have said there was no way that Ulis would be leaving after this season. But after being named a first-team all-american as a sophomore, Ulis looks like he’s destined to be a first round pick, if not a lottery pick. With Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox coming into the program, it was time for him to move on.

James Webb III, Boise State, Jr: Webb is an intriguing prospect, given his size, athleticism and shooting ability. But his three-point percentage dipped to 22.5% this season and he doesn’t have the kind of length that makes NBA teams excited. He’s a second round pick.

Devin Williams, West Virginia, So: The Mountaineers had a shot at being a top five next team next season. Losing Williams, their best rebounder and low post scorer, is a major, major blow. It should be noted here that he is expected to sign with an agent, but it’s not official just yet.

Stephen Zimmerman, UNLV: A consensus top ten recruit, Zimm opted to stay home and play for UNLV, a team that was so bad their head coach was fired three games into league play. There are tools there to build on. I think once teams get him in workouts he’ll end up being selected higher than the late first round, which is where he’s currently projected.


Abdul-Malik Abu, N.C. State, So
Rosco Allen, Stanford, Jr
Tony Anderson, SE Missouri State, Fr
BeeJay Anya, N.C. State, So
Ian Baker, New Mexico State, Jr
V.J. Beachem, Notre Dame, So
Ben Bentil, Providence, So
James Blackmon Jr., Indiana, So
Antonio Blakeney, LSU, Fr
Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson, Jr
Trevon Blueitt, Xavier, So
Amida Brimah, UConn, Jr
Isaiah Briscoe, Kentucky, Fr
Dillon Brooks, Oregon, So
Elijah Brown, New Mexico, Jr
Lamous Brown, Utah State-Eastern, So
Deonte Burton, Iowa State, So
Antonio Campbell, Ohio, Jr
Conor Clifford, Washington State, Jr
Bakari Copeland, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Jr
Charles Cooke, Dayton, Jr
Moustapha Diagne, Northwest Florida, Fr
Cheick Diallo, Kansas, Fr
Tyler Dorsey, Oregon, Fr
D’Andre Downey, Stillman College, Jr
Vince Edwards, Purdue, So
Jimmy Hall, Kent State, Jr
Cedric Happi Noube, Virginia Union, Jr
Josh Hart, Villanova, Jr
Josh Hawkinson, Washington State, Jr
Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin, Jr
Ike Iroegbu, Washington State, Jr
Justin Jackson, North Carolina, So
Julian Jacobs, USC, Jr
Anthony January, Cal State-San Bernadino, So
Kris Jenkins, Villanova, Jr
Que Johnson, Washington State, Jr
Peter Jok, Iowa, Jr
Nikola Jovanovic, USC, Jr
Moses Kingsley, Arkansas, Jr
Travion Kirkendall, Centenary, Fr
Jermaine Lawrence, Manhattan
Dedric Lawson, Memphis, Fr
Marcus Lee, Kentucky, Jr
Emmanuel Malou, Iowa State, So
Makai Mason, Yale, So
Charles Matthews, Kentucky, Fr
Zak McLaughlin, Gadsden State, Fr
Jahmal McMurray, South Florida, Fr
Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina, Jr
Dallas Moore, North Florida, Jr
Jalen Moore, Utah State, Jr
Mamadou Ndiaye, UC Irvine, Jr
Tyrell Nelson, Gardner-Webb, Jr
Malik Newman, Mississippi State, Fr
Marc-Eddy Norelia, FGCU, So
Cameron Oliver, Nevada, Fr
Chinanu Onuaku, Louisville, So
Alec Peters, Valparaiso, Jr
Q.J. Peterson, VMI, Jr
Malik Pope, San Diego State, So
Rodney Purvis, UConn, Jr
Malachi Richardson, Syracuse, Fr
Corey Sanders, Rutgers, Fr
Ingrid Sewa, Arizona Western, So
Pascal Siakam, New Mexico State, So
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue, Fr
Rakish Taylor, Anderson University, Jr
Ethan Telfair, Idaho State, Jr
Trevor Thompson, Ohio State, So
Melo Trimble, Maryland, So
Aaron Valdes, Hawaii, Jr
Mo Watson, Creighton, Jr
Andrew White, Nebraska, Jr
Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall, So
Troy Williams, Indiana, Jr
Alex Wintering, Portland, Jr
Zeek Woodley, Northwestern State, Jr


Grayson Allen, Duke, So
Dwayne Bacon, FSU, Fr
Chris Boucher, Oregon, Jr
Thomas Bryant, Indiana, Fr
Monte’ Morris, Iowa State, Jr
Svi Mykhailiuk, Kansas, So
Ivan Rabb, Cal, Fr
Devin Robinson, Florida, So
Edmund Sumner, Xavier, Fr
Allonzo Trier, Arizona, Fr

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.”