McCullar’s two triple-doubles not only hold significance, but portend future success

photo by: AP Photo/Marco Garcia

Kansas guard Kevin McCullar Jr., left, looks to get past Chaminade guard Jamir Thomas, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Honolulu.

Honolulu — Before Kevin McCullar Jr., there were just two official triple-doubles in Kansas men’s basketball history: Cole Aldrich’s in 2010 against Dayton and Jeff Withey’s in 2012 against San Jose State.

McCullar — fresh off an offseason spent contemplating the NBA Draft, then refining his game in the hopes of taking an Ochai Agbaji- or Jalen Wilson-like leap this season — just managed two in consecutive games.

At the Champions Classic against Kentucky last Tuesday, McCullar tallied 12 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. Against Chaminade six days later, he led a second-half surge with 22 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds.

What both performances had in common is that with the exception of a short late-game stretch against Chaminade in which he managed three assists in just over a minute, McCullar seemed to arrive at his dazzling statistical feats almost by accident. In a social media video filmed postgame in the Jayhawks’ locker room after the Kentucky victory in Chicago, in which coach Bill Self reads out stats to the team, McCullar appeared to ask incredulously, “I had a triple-double?”

“They was both kind of surprises,” McCullar said. “We’re just out there playing, trying to win, trying to make winning plays for the basketball team.”

McCullar had 13 of his points and nine of his rebounds in the second half Monday as KU pulled away from an opportunistic Chaminade squad at the SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

“Coach calls him the best all-around player in college basketball, and I think he’s just going out there and proving it night in and night out,” center Hunter Dickinson said.

Self echoed that praise Monday — although he made sure to note that they didn’t keep track of triple-doubles back in Wilt Chamberlain’s Kansas tenure, and so maybe the “two official triple-doubles” stat is a bit misleading.

He also noted that McCullar didn’t even play up to his full potential by any stretch in either game.

As point guard Dajuan Harris Jr. put it postgame, “He didn’t even play well again! He getting triple doubles and he’s not even playing that well.”

Indeed, McCullar shot 3-for-11 from the field against Kentucky, and while he was mostly better shooting against Chaminade at 8-for-14 (though he did go 1-for-5 from beyond the arc), he committed five turnovers. As Harris predicted, he’s soon enough going to have “a better game than that.” A better game, that is, than either of the consecutive triple-doubles.

“It’s a blessing,” McCullar said Mondaay. “Super fun out there today. Credit to my teammates, helping me out, getting assists and boxing out and different things like that, so it’s a collective unit effort.”


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