KU guard Kevin McCullar Jr. pain free and ready to roll for top-seeded Jayhawks

Kansas guard Kevin McCullar Jr., left, and Kansas forward Jalen Wilson talk as they make their way around the arena while heading to the team’s locker room on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by Nick Krug

Des Moines, Iowa — Kansas guard Kevin McCullar Jr. is all the way recovered from the back spasms that have plagued him recently and ready to get things started during his first NCAA Tournament as a member of the Jayhawks.

“I don’t feel any pain no more. We got it resolved,” McCullar said during Wednesday’s media session at Wells Fargo Arena, ahead of Thursday’s first-round game with Howard. “Back spasms have went away, all the way. So, I’m just ready to go out there and compete.”

McCullar said it was “rough for sure” to sit out the Big 12 championship game against Texas last Saturday, but that he was glad he had the opportunity to do so.


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This is the first time in his career that he’s had to deal with back spasms, and said it was eye-opening to see how much an injury like that can affect you.

McCullar said the first sign of trouble actually surfaced before the Jayhawks played at Texas on March 4 to close out the regular season. He spent the next several days trying to treat and manage the issue and was able to play in two of the three games at the Big 12 tournament.

He came off of the bench in the Jayhawks’ first-round win over West Virginia and returned to his spot in the starting lineup in the win over Iowa State before missing the final 15 or so minutes of that one when the spasms resurfaced.

He credited KU trainer Bill Cowgill, aka “Cheddar,” with helping him push past the issue quickly and said he was thrilled to no longer have to worry about his back. He also said he never considered sitting out the Jayhawks’ upcoming game against Howard and even talked to KU freshman MJ Rice about how he dealt with his own back spasms this season.

“I’ve played through injuries before, nagging injuries with my ankle and stuff like that and you can kind of feel that over and over,” McCullar said. “With the back spasms, you know if it’s there or not. I haven’t been feeling it, so I’m good. I’m feeling great and I’ve been moving around and practicing. They said I’m all good to go and I’ll be ready to go.”

That was good news in the eyes of McCullar’s teammates, including All-American Jalen Wilson, who said he was “super happy” that McCullar was back.

“He’s a guy that obviously we missed in the championship not too many days ago,” Wilson said. “And I’m glad he’s healthy (and) out here having fun with a great team.”

KU assistant Norm Roberts added that McCullar “practiced full speed and had great bounce” on Wednesday morning.

McCullar said the luxury of having a little time to rest between the end of the regular season and the start of the NCAA Tournament was “big time for me.”

“It helped me a lot,” he said. “I really focused on treatment and getting prepared for this tournament. I can’t wait. Going out here and competing for this program will be great.”


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