ATLANTA – For the second straight season, Kansas redshirt-senior Kevin McCullar Jr. has been named a Naismith Defensive Player of the Year semifinalist, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Tuesday. Last season at Texas Tech, McCullar was also one of 10 semifinalists for the award.
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.
Joining McCullar on the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award semifinalist list are Chase Audige (Northwestern), Moussa Cisse (Oklahoma State), Jaylen Clark (UCLA), Zach Edey (Purdue), Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana), Ryan Kalkbrenner (Creighton), Caleb McConnell (Rutgers), Marcus Sasser (Houston) and Zakai Zeigler (Tennessee).
This season at Kansas, McCullar is second the Big 12 and is 24th nationally with 2.1 steals per game, while often guarding the opponents’ best scorer. The San Antonio, Texas, guard’s 58 steals are second most in the Big 12 and ranks 27th nationally. McCullar’s seven double-doubles rank second in the Big 12 behind teammate Jalen Wilson’s nine. He is scoring 11.1 points per game and is third in the Big 12 with a 7.3 rebound average. He is the only player in the league to rank in the top five of the Big 12 in rebound and steal average.
McCullar has scored 986 career points, just 14 shy of 1,000, and he has 170 career steals. His 60 steals this season are 20 from Kansas’ single-season top eight list.
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. 3 Kansas (24-5, 12-4) will host Texas Tech (16-13, 5-11) tonight, Feb. 28, at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN. McCullar and Wilson will both be honored at the Senior Night festivities.