Texas Tech wing Kevin McCullar recently announced that if he plays another year of college basketball, it will be in either a Kansas or Gonzaga uniform. When those two programs are pursuing you that aggressively, it generally means there’s a lot of talent there. While McCullar has not made a final decision on whether he’ll remain in the NBA Draft, he has made a decision about his college future, should he return: McCullar will be a Jayhawk.
Per 247 Sports, McCullar was the 11th best player in the transfer portal this offseason. Per most mock drafts, it seems McCullar is generally viewed as a late 2nd round flyer if he’s even picked at all in the Draft, and the fact that he’s already naming a college destination in the event he does not opt for the NBA would seem to suggest he’s likely returning for a senior year. However, we’ll ultimately have to wait for an official announcement before we know for sure if he’ll be in Lawrence this winter.
McCullar is an interesting player, who may not be the perfect fit at Kansas, but still definitely fills a need. It should be noted that he missed 8 games with an ankle injury at Texas Tech last season, and that ankle allegedly continued to hamper his mobility even after he returned. Still, he was a key piece of KenPom’s top ranked defense in Lubbock, and would give Kansas a proven defensive stopper on the perimeter should he forego the draft. The Jayhawks, in all likelihood, will be replacing both Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji on the wing, both of whom were solid defenders who could take on just about any player on the court 1-4. With a lot of those minutes expected to go to freshmen this year, landing McCullar adds an experienced defense-minded wing to the mix, something Bill Self is not doubt making a high priority.
It should be pointed out that McCullar is a career 29.9% 3 point shooter, coming off his best shooting season in which he still only hit 31.1% of his 90 attempts. We’ve seen in some recent years when Marcus Garrett, sharing the floor with both Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson, helped create major spacing issues as teams essentially ignored Garrett to clog the middle. Since point guard DaJuan Harris is at best a streaky 3 point shooter, coming off a 32.3% performance from outside, and incoming star freshman center Ernest Udeh Jr. is not a big who can stretch the floor, there is the potential that in certain lineups McCullar may cause similar spacing issues.
With that said, McCullar does have skills to offer on the offensive end. Despite being a 6’6, 210 pound wing, McCullar had Tech’s second best assist rate at 19.4%, an outstanding number for someone who gets no minutes as a true point guard. He doesn’t turn the ball over much for a guy with reasonably high usage, and his rebounding numbers were fairly similar to Christian Braun, who was a big help on the boards from the wing. He was the Red Raiders’ 3rd leading scorer last season despite the absence of a consistent outside shot, and for his career shoots 48.8% inside the arc, and 71.8% at the free throw line, which he gets to on a fairly frequent basis.
Knowing that McCullar did these things while battling numerous injuries makes him all the more intriguing. If McCullar does indeed pull out of the draft and come to Kansas, he will likely start alongside Harris, incoming 5 star Gradey Dick, incoming 5 star MJ Rice, and either Udeh or sophomore Zach Clemence at the five spot. His ability to distribute should be helpful on what appears to be an offensively gifted squad, and his lockdown defense is something that no other wing on the team has demonstrated yet at the college level.
Kansas has been in the running for other highly sought after transfers like Iowa State’s Tyrese Hunter and Missouri State’s Isiaih Mosely. We don’t know whether Jalen Wilson will stay in the draft yet, so KU’s scholarship situation isn’t entirely settled. It’s still theoretically possible one of those two could end up at Kansas, but given the talent the Jayhawks are already stacked with coming into the season, McCullar’s commitment would seem to make it unlikely that Kansas will be the destination for either of those two.
McCullar, like all players who have declared for the NBA Draft, will have until June 1st to make a final decision as to his future for the upcoming season.