Kevin McCullar listed as semifinalist for Defensive Player of the Year

Kevin McCullar’s defensive ability has now been recognized on a national scale.

Just yesterday afternoon, the Kansas wing was listed as a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award. His name is among the likes of Purdue’s Zach Edey and Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis.

It is the second consecutive season that McCullar has been nominated for this honor, but last season it came with Texas Tech, who the Jayhawks just picked up a victory against. McCullar blocked two shots in the game against his former school.

He did not make the finalist cut during last season, though it looks like a real possibility this year. McCullar has been KU’s best defensive player this season on the perimeter, and his length makes him disrupt opposing players rhythm on a nightly basis.

The last Kansas player to take home the award was Marcus Garrett, who Bill Self himself compared McCullar to. Garrett, who sparingly played in the NBA, has a very similar playstyle to McCullar. They both are long wings with mediocre jump shots but elite defensive capability.

McCullar is averaging 2.1 steals per game, which is good for 2nd in the Big 12 and 24th in the nation. He also averages 0.7 blocks per contest. Still, he is a player that does a lot of things that do not show up on the box score.

Plays like this underline the impact that McCullar has on Bill Self’s team. Offensively, he has many holes in his game — defensively, he is as complete as any other player in the nation. Kansas fans should feel comfortable with McCullar guarding the opposing team’s best player, and he has shut down several key scorers in the Big 12.

McCullar is expected to enter the NBA Draft after the season, but he still has a lot to prove in a Jayhawks uniform. His defensive presence will be felt by other teams when the NCAA Tournament begins.