ATLANTA – For the second straight season, Kansas redshirt-senior Kevin McCullar Jr. has been named one of 15 to the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Watch List, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Thursday.
Last season at Texas Tech, McCullar was one of five finalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year.
In its sixth year, the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award originated in 2018. McCullar is looking to become the second Kansas player to win the honor, joining 2020 recipient Marcus Garrett.
McCullar leads the Big 12 and is ninth nationally in steals per game with a 2.5 average, while often guarding the opponents’ best scorer. McCullar’s 47 steals are tied for the most in the Big 12 and ranks 12th nationally. The San Antonio, Texas, guard has eight games with three or more steals this season.
McCullar is scoring 10.4 points per game and is fourth in the Big 12 with a 7.3 rebound average. His five double-doubles this season are second in the conference.
Also, in 2020, Garrett was the ESPN.com national defensive player of the year. Other Jayhawks to have won national defensive player of the year honors include Jeff Withey, a co-recipient by the NABC in 2013, and Udoka Azubuike in 2020 by the NABC.
No. 9 Kansas (16-4, 5-3 Big 12) will play at Kentucky (13-6, 4-3 SEC) in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. (Central). The contest from Rupp Arena will be televised on ESPN.