Bill Self calls Kevin McCullar the best player on the Kansas basketball roster

Kansas head coach Bill Self takes a moment to speak with redshirt senior guard Kevin McCullar Jr. (15) during media day interviews Tuesday inside Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas head coach Bill Self takes a moment to speak with redshirt senior guard Kevin McCullar Jr. (15) during media day interviews Tuesday inside Allen Fieldhouse. /

Head coach Bill Self raved about Kevin McCullar and how he has performed in practice during the Kansas basketball offseason.

Hunter Dickinson is arguably the best player to enter the transfer portal in recent history. When the Kansas Jayhawks received a commitment from the sought-after Michigan transfer in May, you might have thought he’d be Bill Self’s most praised player — but you would have thought wrong.

The Hall of Fame coach has seen plenty of talent come into Lawrence across his 20 seasons in Lawrence. However, there haven’t been many players who he appreciates as much as Kevin McCullar.

A super senior who played three seasons at Texas Tech, McCullar averaged 10.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.0 steals across 34 contests (33 starts). While those statistics don’t raise as many eyebrows as Dickinson’s near 20-10 averages, McCullar does the little things on the court.

McCullar was the glue guy for Kansas basketball in 2022-23. He was a semifinalist for National Defensive Player of the Year and earned All-Big 12 team honors. Without question, his on-ball defense is as good as anyone else’s in the nation. He dives for loose balls and is willing to put his body on the line for his team.

According to Bill Self, what we saw last year from him is just the beginning. “He just looks to me like he’s a different guy. He’s different right now than he has been.”

“The most improved player without question we have is Kevin McCullar,” the Kansas basketball head coach continued. “He is by far the most improved player we’ve seen so far and certainly been the best player I think on our team so far. That could be somebody (else) on a different day. He’s been the most consistent so far.”

Those words are encouraging to hear for Jayhawks fans. At one point, he was not even expected to return to Kansas for a final year. It seemed set in stone that he’d keep his name in the NBA Draft, but he decided to head back to college ball to improve his game — primarily his offense.

KU has plenty of scorers in Dickinson, KJ Adams, Nick Timberlake, Arterio Morris, and Elmarko Jackson. Anything extra that McCullar can give is icing on the cake. He’s needed more for his defense and rebounding, but an improved jump shot would make him even more valuable.

Self believes McCullar can take his game to the next level, similar to Ochai Agbaji and Jalen Wilson — two players that entered the NBA Draft, returned to Kansas, and had terrific final seasons.

“It’s exactly the same thing Ochai and J-Will did… He’s just kind of in that same mode of those guys.”

If he is being compared to players who both finished as finalists for the Wooden Award, it would be hard to even fathom how impactful he can be for this team. The sky is the limit for Kevin McCullar in 2023-24.

You can read more of Coach Self’s quotes by clicking here.

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