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Dickinson, McCullar named to Naismith Award's Midseason team

KU one of 3 schools with multiple players on 30-man list

3 min read
KU big man Hunter Dickinson (1) shoots a free throw while teammate Kevin McCullar (15) looks on during the Jayhawks' home win over Oklahoma back in January. [Chance Parker photos]

It’s one thing to be included on those preseason watch lists for annual college basketball awards back in November.

It’s something entirely different to land on those same lists in February and March.

That’s exactly where KU seniors Hunter Dickinson and Kevin McCullar Jr. found themselves this week, however, when they were named to the Naismith Trophy’s Player of the Year Midseason Team.

Kansas joins North Carolina and Purdue as the only schools in the country to have multiple players on the 30-man list.

Both players also landed on most midseason All-American teams and are considered among the top four or five contenders for Big 12 Player of the Year honors.

In his first season with the Jayhawks, Dickinson leads the Big 12 and is seventh nationally in rebounds per game at 10.8. His 13 double-doubles this season also lead the Big 12 and rank ninth nationally.

The transfer center from Michigan also leads the 6th-ranked Jayhawks with 31 blocks and has recorded 28 steals in 25 games so far this season.

McCullar, now in his second year at KU, leads the Big 12 in scoring at 19.5 points per game, which puts him 41st nationally. He has recorded two triple-doubles this season and appears among the conference leaders in 11 Big 12 statistical categories.

McCullar has missed the last two KU games — a home win over Baylor and road loss at Texas Tech — with a bone bruise, but Kansas coach Bill Self said Thursday that he was hopeful that McCullar could return to the lineup for Saturday’s 3 p.m. game at No. 25 Oklahoma in Norman.

If he does, it will mark the first time since the Feb. 5 overtime road loss at Kansas State that the Jayhawks have had their starting lineup together.

Saturday’s contest, which is expected to come in front of a sold-out crowd at Lloyd Noble Center, will be the first of three remaining conference road games for the Jayhawks, who have struggled away from home since the start of Big 12 play.

Kansas has just one conference win away from home — Jan. 16 at Oklahoma State — and has dropped five Big 12 road games.

That puts KU at 19-6 overall and 7-5 in Big 12 play, including that 1-5 mark on the road. KU’s only other true road win this season came in December at Indiana.

A win on Saturday not only would give the Jayhawks a much-needed win away from home, but it also could set up Self’s squad to go on a little run. KU has home games against Texas and BYU up next on the schedule before closing the season at Baylor, home against K-State and at Houston.

Those six games — at home or away — will determine a lot about this team, including conference finish, NCAA Tournament seed and what kind of momentum and confidence they’ll take with them into postseason play.

When whole and healthy, KU has proven that it can be as good as any team in the country. The Jayhawks are currently ranked No. 17 in the NET Rankings, with a 5-4 record against Quad 1 foes and a combined record of 13-2 against Quad 2, 3 and 4 teams.

In ESPN’s latest Bracketology release, which came out on Friday morning, Joe Lunardi still had the Jayhawks as a No. 2 seed in the West region.

Saturday’s game at OU is set for a 3 p.m. tipoff on ESPN.

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